3 Principal Parts of German Verbs

The 3 principal parts of German verbs are the infinitive, the simple past form and the past participle. In this lesson I show a list of irregular verbs in German. Then I showcase the changes they make in the 3 principal parts of German verbs.

First, I started with the infinitive. I included an example in the present (Präsens), which is not usually included in lists like this. Then I used examples in the simple past (Präteritum). Usually lists like this end with the present perfect (Perfekt). Since the votes on my social networks requested it, I included the Pluperfect (Plusquamperfekt) tense.

I show each verb in each of the four previously mentioned tenses. The sentence for each verb is the same. I simply transition between tenses to show the changes made. Of course, I also included the English translation for each.

Keep in mind that the difference between Präteritum and Perfekt is not as strong as the difference between the English simple past and present perfect. The translations here show what these tenses are in English. This is not a direct translation of the meaning between the languages. In reality the translation for both Präteritum and Perfekt in German are pretty similar. Most of the time they are completely indistinguishable.

If you would like to get a worksheet to practice these four tenses, click here.

If you would like to know more about each of these tenses, click the links below.

Click here for everything you will ever need to know about the present tense in German.

Click here for a lesson about the simple past.

Click here for a lesson about the Perfekt tense.

Click here for a lesson about the Plusquamperfekt.

Table of Contents

beginnen – begann – begonnen
to begin – began – begun

Das Spiel beginnt um 3.
The game begins/is beginning at 3.

Das Spiel begann um 3.
The game began at 3.

Das Spiel hat um 3 begonnen.
The game has begun at 3.

Das Spiel hatte um 3 begonnen.
The game had begun at 3.

bleiben – blieb – ist geblieben
to stay – stayed – stayed

Wir bleiben zu Hause.
We stay/are staying at home.

Wir blieben zu Hause.
We stayed at home.

Wir sind zu Hause geblieben.
We have stayed at home.

Wir waren zu Hause geblieben.
We had stayed at home.

bringen – brachte – gebracht
to bring – brought – brought

Sie bringt den Kuchen zur Party.
She brings/is bringing the cake to the party.

Sie brachte den Kuchen zur Party.
She brought the cake to the party.

Sie hat den Kuchen zur Party gebracht.
She has brought the cake to the party.

Sie hatte den Kuchen zur Party gebracht.
She had brought the cake to the party.

denken – dachte – gedacht
to think – thought – thought

Ich denke nicht.
I don’t think/am not thinking.

Ich dachte nicht.
I didn’t think.

Ich habe nicht gedacht.
I haven’t thought.

Ich hatte nicht gedacht.
I hadn’t thought.

essen – aß – gegessen
to eat – ate – eaten

Er isst einen Apfel.
He eats/is eating an apple.

Er aß einen Apfel.
He ate an apple.

Er hat einen Apfel gegessen.
He has eaten an apple.

Er hatte einen Apfel gegessen.
He had eaten an apple.

fahren – fuhr – ist gefahren
to drive – drove – driven

Mein Vater fährt nach Hause.
My father drives/is driving home.

Mein Vater fuhr nach Hause.
My father drove home.

Mein Vater ist nach Hause gefahren.
My father has driven home.

Mein Vater war nach Hause gefahren.
My father had driven home.

finden – fand – gefunden
to find – found – found

Er findet den Schlüssel.
He finds/is finding the key.

Er fand den Schlüssel.
He found the key.

Er hat den Schlüssel gefunden.
He has found the key.

Er hatte den Schlüssel gefunden.
He had found the key.

fliegen – flog – ist geflogen
to fly – flew – flown

Der Präsident fliegt nach Deutschland.
The president flies/is flying to Germany.

Der Präsident flog nach Deutschland.
The president flew to Germany.

Der Präsident ist nach Deutschland geflogen.
The president has flown to Germany.

Der Präsident war nach Deutschland geflogen.
The president had flown to Germany.

geben – gab – gegeben
to give – gave – given

Meine Freundin gibt mir eine neue Uhr zum Geburtstag.
My girlfriend gives/is giving me a new clock/watch for my birthday.

Meine Freundin gab mir eine neue Uhr zum Geburtstag.
My girlfriend gave me a new clock/watch for my birthday.

Meine Freundin hat mir eine neue Uhr zum Geburtstag gegeben.
My girlfriend has given me a new clock/watch for my birthday.

Meine Freundin hatte mir eine neue Uhr zum Geburtstag gegeben.
My girlfriend had given me a new clock/watch for my birthday.

gefallen – gefiel – gefallen
to like – liked – liked

Die Vorstellung gefällt mir.
I like the play.

Die Vorstellung gefiel mir.
I liked the play.

Die Vorstellung hat mir gefallen.
I have liked the play.

Die Vorstellung hatte mir gefallen.
I had liked the play.

gehen – ging – ist gegangen
to go – went – gone

Meine Mutter geht ins Kino.
My mother goes/is going to the movie theater.

Meine Mutter ging ins Kino.
My mother went to the movie theater.

Meine Mutter ist ins Kino gegangen.
My mother has gone to the movie theater.

Meine Mutter war ins Kino gegangen.
My mother had gone to the movie theater.

gewinnen – gewann – gewonnen
to win – won – won

Meine Schwester gewinnt den Preis.
My sister wins/is winning the prize.

Meine Schwester gewann den Preis.
My sister won the prize.

Meine Schwester hat den Preis gewonnen.
My sister has won the prize.

Meine Schwester hatte den Preis gewonnen.
My sister had won the prize.

haben – hatte – gehabt
to have – had – had

Sein Bruder hat einen Hund.
His brother has a dog.

Sein Bruder hatte einen Hund.
His brother had a dog.

Sein Bruder hat einen Hund gehabt.
His brother has had a dog.

Sein Bruder hatte einen Hund gehabt.
His brother had had a dog.

helfen – half – geholfen
to help – helped – helped

Die Zahnärztin hilft dem Kind beim Fädeln.
The dentist helps/is helping the child with flossing.

Die Zahnärztin half dem Kind beim Fädeln.
The dentist helped the child with flossing.

Die Zahnärztin hat dem Kind beim Fädeln geholfen.
The dentist has helped the child with flossing.

Die Zahnärztin hatte dem Kind beim Fädeln geholfen.
The dentist had helped the child with flossing.

kennen – kannte – gekannt
to know – knew – known

Der Pilot kennt den Mechaniker.
The pilot knows the mechanic.

Der Pilot kannte den Mechaniker.
The pilot knew the mechanic.

Der Pilot hat den Mechaniker gekannt.
The pilot has known the mechanic.

Der Pilot hatte den Mechaniker gekannt.
The pilot had known the mechanic.

kommen – kam – ist gekommen
to come – came – come

Die Lehrerin kommt zu spät ins Klassenzimmer.
The teacher comes/is coming too late into the classroom.

Die Lehrerin kam zu spät ins Klassenzimmer.
The teacher came too late into the classroom.

Die Lehrerin ist zu spät ins Klassenzimmer gekommen.
The teacher has come too late into the classroom.

Die Lehrerin war zu spät ins Klassenzimmer gekommen.
The teacher had come too late into the classroom.

laufen – lief – ist gelaufen
to run – ran – run

Der Busfahrer läuft zum Bus.
The bus driver runs/is running to the bus.

Der Busfahrer lief zum Bus.
The bus driver ran to the bus.

Der Busfahrer ist zum Bus gelaufen.
The bus driver has run to the bus.

Der Busfahrer war zum Bus gelaufen.
The bus driver had run to the bus.

lesen – las – gelesen
to read – read – read

Die Verkäuferin liest ein Buch.
The sales person reads/is reading a book.

Die Verkäuferin las ein Buch.
The sales person read a book.

Die Verkäuferin hat ein Buch gelesen.
The sales person has read a book.

Die Verkäuferin hatte ein Buch gelesen.
The sales person had read a book.

liegen – lag – gelegen
to lie – lay – lain

Sein Zeug liegt auf dem Boden.
His things lie/are lying on the ground/floor.

Sein Zeug lag auf dem Boden.
His things lay on the ground/floor.

Sein Zeug hat auf dem Boden gelegen.
His things have lain on the ground/floor.

Sein Zeug hatte auf dem Boden gelegen.
His things had lain on the ground/floor.

reiten – ritt – ist geritten
to ride – rode – ridden

Der Held reitet zur Prinzessin.
The hero rides/is riding to the princess.

Der Held ritt zur Prinzessin.
The hero rode to the princess.

Der Held ist zur Prinzessin geritten.
The hero has ridden to the princess.

Der Held war zur Prinzessin geritten.
The hero had ridden to the princess.

rufen – rief – gerufen
to call – called – called

Das Kind ruft seine Großmutter an.
The child calls/is calling its grandmother.

Das Kind rief seine Großmutter an.
The child called its grandmother.

Das Kind hat seine Großmutter angerufen.
The child has called its grandmother.

Das Kind hatte seine Großmutter angerufen.
The child had called its grandmother.

schießen – schoss – geschossen
to shoot – shot – shot

Der Fußballspieler schießt den Ball ins Tor.
The soccer player shoots/is shooting the ball into the goal.

Der Fußballspieler schoss den Ball ins Tor.
The soccer player shot the ball into the goal.

Der Fußballspieler hat den Ball ins Tor geschossen.
The soccer player has shot the ball into the goal.

Der Fußballspieler hatte den Ball ins Tor geschossen.
The soccer player had shot the ball into the goal.

schlagen – schlug – geschlagen
to hit – hit – hit

Der Baseballspieler schlägt den Ball.
The baseball player hits/is hitting the ball.

Der Baseballspieler schlug den Ball.
The baseball player hit the ball.

Der Baseballspieler hat den Ball geschlagen.
The baseball player has hit the ball.

Der Baseballspieler hatte den Ball geschlagen.
The baseball player had hit the ball.

schneiden – schnitt – geschnitten
to cut – cut – cut

Der Bäcker schneidet das Brot in Scheiben.
The baker cuts/is cutting the bread into slices.

Der Bäcker schnitt das Brot in Scheiben.
The baker cut the bread into slices.

Der Bäcker hat das Brot in Scheiben geschnitten.
The baker has cut the bread into slices.

Der Bäcker hatte das Brot in Scheiben geschnitten.
The baker had cut the bread into slices.

schreiben – schrieb – geschrieben
to write – wrote – written

Die Frau schreibt einen Brief.
The woman writes/is writing a letter.

Die Frau schrieb einen Brief.
The woman wrote a letter.

Die Frau hat einen Brief geschrieben.
The woman has written a letter.

Die Frau hatte einen Brief geschrieben.
The woman had written a letter.

schwimmen – schwamm – ist geschwommen
to swim – swam – swum

Jeden Morgen schwimme ich.
Every morning, I swim.

Jeden Morgen schwamm ich.
Every morning, I swam.

Jeden Morgen bin ich geschwommen.
Every morning, I have swum.

Jeden Morgen war ich geschwommen.
Every morning, I had swum.

sehen – sah – gesehen
to see – saw – seen

Er sieht zu viel fern.
He watches/is watching too much TV.

Er sah zu viel fern.
He watched too much TV.

Er hat zu viel ferngesehen.
He has watched too much TV.

Er hatte zu viel ferngesehen.
He had watched too much TV.

sein – war – ist gewesen
to be – was – been

Dein Mantel ist im Wohnzimmer.
Your coat is in the living room.

Dein Mantel war im Wohnzimmer.
Your coat was in the living room.

Dein Mantel ist im Wohnzimmer gewesen.
Your coat has been in the living room.

Dein Mantel war im Wohnzimmer gewesen.
Your coat had been in the living room.

singen – sang – gesungen
to sing – sang – sung

Rammstein singt mein Lieblingslied.
Rammstein sings/is singing my favorite song.

Rammstein sang mein Lieblingslied.
Rammstein sang my favorite song.

Rammstein hat mein Lieblingslied gesungen.
Rammstein has sung my favorite song.

Rammstein hatte mein Lieblingslied gesungen.
Rammstein had sung my favorite song.

sitzen – saß – gesessen
to sit – sat – sat

Ihr Freund sitzt auf dem Sofa.
Her (boy)friend sits/is sitting on the sofa.

Ihr Freund saß auf dem Sofa.
Her (boy)friend sat on the sofa.

Ihr Freund hat auf dem Sofa gesessen.
Her (boy)friend has sat on the sofa.

Ihr Freund hatte auf dem Sofa gesessen.
Her (boy)friend had sat on the sofa.

sprechen – sprach – gesprochen
to speak – spoke – spoken

David Hasselhoffs Auto spricht.
David Hasselhoff’s car speaks/is speaking.

David Hasselhoffs Auto sprach.
David Hasselhoff’s car spoke.

David Hasselhoffs Auto hat gesprochen.
David Hasselhoff’s car has spoken.

David Hasselhoffs Auto hatte gesprochen.
David Hasselhoff’s car had spoken.

stehen – stand – hat gestanden
to stand – stood – stood

Der Bibliothekar steht in der Bücherei.
The librarian stands/is standing in the library.

Der Bibliothekar stand in der Bücherei.
The librarian stood in the library.

Der Bibliothekar hat in der Bücherei gestanden.
The librarian has stood in the library.

Der Bibliothekar hatte in der Bücherei gestanden.
The librarian had stood in the library.

steigen – stieg – ist gestiegen
to climb – climbed – climbed

Der Feuerwehrmann steigt in den Feuerwehrwagen.
The fireman climbs/is climbing into the firetruck.

Der Feuerwehrmann stieg in den Feuerwehrwagen.
The fireman climbed into the firetruck.

Der Feuerwehrmann ist in den Feuerwehrwagen gestiegen.
The fireman has climbed into the firetruck.

Der Feuerwehrmann war in den Feuerwehrwagen gestiegen.
The fireman had climbed into the firetruck.

tragen – trug – getragen
to wear – wore – worn

Der Detektiv trägt einen Hut.
The detective wears/is wearing a hat.

Der Detektiv trug einen Hut.
The detective wore a hat.

Der Detektiv hat einen Hut getragen.
The detective has worn a hat.

Der Detektiv hatte einen Hut getragen.
The detective had worn a hat.

treffen – traf – getroffen
to meet – met – met

Die Schüler treffen sich mit Freunden.
The students meet/are meeting with friends.

Die Schüler trafen sich mit Freunden.
The students met with friends.

Die Schüler haben sich mit Freunden getroffen.
The students have met with friends.

Die Schüler hatten sich mit Freunden getroffen.
The students had met with friends.

trinken – trank – getrunken
to drink – drank – drunk

Der Bürgermeister trinkt den Wein.
The mayor drinks/is drinking the wine.

Der Bürgermeister trank den Wein.
The mayor drank the wine.

Der Bürgermeister hat den Wein getrunken.
The mayor has drunk the wine.

Der Bürgermeister hatte den Wein getrunken.
The mayor had drunk the wine.

tun – tat – getan
to do – did – done

Was tust du?
What are you doing?

Was tatest du?
What did you do?

Was hast du getan?
What have you done?

Was hattest du getan?
What had you done?

verstehen – verstand – verstanden
to understand – understood – understood

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.
I only understand (am only understanding) train station.

Ich verstand nur Bahnhof.
I only understood train station.

Ich habe nur Bahnhof verstanden.
I have only understood train station.

Ich hatte nur Bahnhof verstanden.
I had only understood train station.

waschen – wusch – gewaschen
to wash – washed – washed

Meine Mutter wäscht meine Wäsche.
My mother washes/is washing my laundry.

Meine Mutter wusch meine Wäsche.
My mother washed my laundry.

Meine Mutter hat meine Wäsche gewaschen.
My mother has washed my laundry.

Meine Mutter hatte meine Wäsche gewaschen.
My mother had washed my laundry.

werden – wurde – ist geworden
to become – became – became

Er wird sechzehn Jahre alt.
He turns (is becoming) sixteen years old.

Er wurde sechzehn Jahre alt.
He turned (became) sixteen years old.

Er ist sechzehn Jahre alt geworden.
He has turned (has become) sixteen years old.

Er war sechzehn Jahre alt geworden.
He had turned (had become) sixteen years old.

wissen – wusste – gewusst
to know – knew – knew

Ich weiß alles.
I know everything.

Ich wusste alles.
I knew everything.

Ich habe alles gewusst.
I have known everything.

Ich hatte alles gewusst. –
I had known everything.

If you want to practice these tenses in a more structured way, you can click here to get a worksheet and answer key for this lesson. Das ist alles für heute. Bis zum nächsten Mal. Tschüss.

Learn More About the Perfekt Tense with These Lessons!

*Images used in the video are mostly courtesy of Pixabay. If you are in need of stock images, this is a great place to get them.

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.