Lesson 8: Present Tense for Regular Verbs

In order to be able to speak and understand German you need to know a little bit more than just basic phrases and expressions. The basis of each sentence is a verb. It bears the most meaning in most cases unless it is an auxiliary verb (sein (to be), haben (to have) and some more that we will learn later). Most of the verbs in German are regular. It means that their conjugation follows a standard pattern that we will learn today.

We will start with Present Simple Tense (Präsens). There is nothing complicated about that. You take the verb’s stem and add a personal ending to that.

Stem: You might have noticed that most verbs in German end with –en (i.e. heißen). Anything before that –en is the verb’s stem.

Ending: In English we will only add the ending –s when in the 3rd person. See, I play but he/she plays. In German verbs will get endings in all persons. Good news is that the pattern is pretty simple and same endings would apply to irregular verbs, too. Though there are some other things you will have to pay attention to with irregular verbs. But that’s later. For now let’s stick to regular verbs and their conjugation.

You are familiar with personal pronouns already.

ich I
du You (informal)
er/sie/es He/she/it
wir We
ihr You
sie / Sie They/You (formal)

Now, let’s learn the ending pattern

ich e
du st
er/sie/es t
wir en
ihr t
sie / Sie en

What we will do now is that we will take a regular German verb ‘fragen’ (ask) and will conjugate it.

We take the step ‘frag-’ and just add the endings provided above:

ich frage I ask
du fragst You ask
er/sie/es fragt He/she (it) asks
wir fragen We ask
ihr fragt You ask
sie / Sie fragen They ask

Simple as that! Now you can conjugate German regular and almost can conjugate German irregular verbs.

There are a few things that you need to pay attention though.

  • the verb’s stem ends with  t; d; m or n

For example: arbeiten (to work), finden (to find), etc.

The pattern will look slightly different but not complicated to remember. An additional –e is added to ease the pronunciation.

arbeiten
Ich arbeit e
Du arbeit e st
Er, sie, es arbeit e t
Wir arbeit en
Ihr arbeit e t
Sie, sie arbeit en

Here is a list of similar verbs. Please write them down, find their meanings in the dictionaries, and memorize them:

antworten; arbeiten; atmen; begegnen; beobachten; bilden; bitten; finden; gründen; heiraten; mieten; öffnen; rechnen; reden; retten; trocknen; warten; zeichnen

 

  • the verb’s stem ends with s; ß; x or z

It happens rarely and the only difference in pattern is that the ending –st is changed to –t when we use the verb with ‘du’ pronoun. You have seen that in the conjugation of the verb heißen.

heißen
Ich heiße
Du heiß( ) t
Er, sie, es heißt
Wir heißen
Ihr heißt
Sie, sie heißen

Here is a list of similar verbs. Please write them down, find their meanings in the dictionaries, and memorize them:

beweisen;    heizen;    mixen;    reisen;    reißen;    reizen;    s. setzen;    sitzen

  • the verb’s stem ends with n

This is even the smaller group of verbs. If their step ends with an –l we can see the following pattern:

sammeln (to collect)
Ich samm( )le
Du du sammelst
Er, sie, es sammelt
Wir sammeln
Ihr sammelt
Sie, sie sammeln

Here is a list of similar verbs. Please write them down, find their meanings in the dictionaries, and memorize them:

googeln;    lächeln;    klingeln;  sammeln; ändern (ich ändere, du änderst, er ändert, wir ändern, ihr ändert);  dauern (erinnern;   feiern;   klappern;   verbessern

Now you are all set and no regular German verb can be a trouble for you. Let’s see if that’s true.

Fill in the missing endings for the following verbs:

Ich wart-e sitz- komm-e
Du wart-est sitz- komm-
Er, sie, es wart- sitz-t komm-t
Wir wart-en sitz- komm-en
Ihr wart- sitz-t komm-
Sie, sie wart- sitz-en komm-

Find 15 regular verbs in the following image. Sort them according to the type of conjugation and conjugate them. Translate them into English and memorize.

In our next lesson we will start creating short German text speaking about ourselves and our friends, neighbors, or relatives.

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