31-40 Most Used German Verbs
In this week’s Wednesday video I conjugated the 31-40 most used German verbs from the list on The German Professor’s website. If you haven’t seen the video and you want to see and hear the conjugation of each verb, you can watch the video below. Alternatively, you can see the verbs in the images below the video.
31. sprechen – to speak
This verb is used exactly as you would expect it to be. You can say that you speak a language or two and you can say that you are speaking with another person or group of people. You can even use this to speak about someone or something.
Ich spreche Deutsch und Englisch. – I speak German and English.
Sprichst du Deutsch? – Do you speak German?
Der Mann spricht über seine Frau. – The man is talking about his wife.
Seine Frau spricht über die Freundin ihres Mannes. – The woman is talking about the girlfriend of her husband.
Das Mädchen spricht mit den anderen Kindern. – The girl is speaking with the other children.
Warum sprechen wir darüber? – Why are we talking about that?
Sprecht ihr oft mit eurer Mutter? – Do you talk to your mother often?
Die Kinder sprechen mit ihren Spielzeugen. – The children speak with their toys.
32. bringen – to bring, take
This verb can be used to bring something or someone. It can be used with a variety of different separable prefixes to change the meaning slightly or considerably. The verb “mitbringen” for instance, means “to bring along”. That isn’t much of a difference from “to bring”. The verb “beibringen”, however, means “to teach”, which is quite a bit more removed from the original meaning.
Ich bringe einen Kuchen zur Party. – I am bringing a cake to the party.
Wen bringst du zur Party mit? – Whom are you bringing along to the party?
Herr Antrim bringt uns Deutsch bei. – Mr. Antrim is teaching us German.
Meine Tochter bringt mir ein Glas Wasser. – My daughter is bringing me a glass of water.
Das Pferd bringt dem Bauer etwas Heu. – The horse is bringing the farmer some hay.
Was bringen wir zur Party? – What are we bringing to the party?
Warum bringt ihr die Kinder nicht mit? – Why don’t you bring the children along?
Die Kinder bringen ihre Schlafsäcke in die Jugendherberge. – The children bring their sleeping bags into the youth hostel.
33. leben – to live
This verb can be used to express the location of your dwelling, but it is generally used to talk about where your life takes place. Sometimes this is the same place as your home and, therefore, it can be used interchangeably with “wohnen” (to live, reside), which usually has more to do with your home rather than your life and where you hang out. The short version of the difference between these two is that “leben” involves your life, whereas “wohnen” involves your dwelling.
Ich lebe in Berlin. – I live in Berlin.
Lebst du schon lange hier? – Have you lived here long?
Der Junge lebt noch. – The boy is still alive.
Die Ärzte lebt in Düsseldorf. – The doctor lives in Düsseldorf.
Das Kaninchen lebt im Wald. – The rabbit lives in the forest.
Wir leben in Dreck. – We live in filth.
Wie könnt ihr so leben? – How can you live like that?
Leben Sie hier? – Do you live here?
34. fahren – to drive, ride, go
A lot of people have trouble translating the verb “fahren”. This is because in English we would use a variety of verbs to accomplish what the Germans can do with one verb. It can be translated as the following English verbs, depending upon the usage: to drive, to go, to ride, or to run. It is also sometimes confusing, because it can be used as an intransitive verb or as a transitive verb. This means it can be used with a direct object or it can be used in the absence of a direct object. This means that in the Perfekt tense you could use either a form of “haben” or a form of “sein” to make the Perfekt sentence. You would use “haben” if there is a direct object and “sein” if there isn’t one. Since this post is about the present tense usage of these verbs, I’ll stick to that for the examples.
Ich fahre zur Schule. – I am driving to school.
Fährst du mit dem Bus oder mit dem Auto? – Are you riding the bus or driving your car?
Der Busfahrer fährt den Bus. – The bus driver is driving the bus.
Meine Mutter fährt mit dem Auto zur Arbeit. – My mother goes by car to work.
Das Schiff fährt täglich. – The ship runs daily.
Wir fahren gern Rad. – We like to ride bicycles.
Fahrt ihr gern mit dem Rad? – Do you like riding bicycles?
Die Züge fahren jede zweite Minute. – The trains run every two minutes.
35. meinen – to think, have an opinion
This one is a bit tricky, because it can be translated using a variety of English verbs. You can use the following translations for this one verb: to mean, to think, to be of the opinion, to have an opinion, to guess, to deem, or to reckon. It takes a bit of “Sprachgefühl” to figure out when to use it and when to use “finden”, “denken”, or “glauben”. It is also important to note that a lot of Germans will use “meinen” and “bedeuten” interchangeably, but technically “bedeuten” is the German word for “to mean” and “meinen” is the verb “to believe” or “to think”.
Du weißt, was ich meine. – You know what I mean.
Was meinst du? – What do you think? (Alternatively: What do you mean?)
Der Chef meint, dass die Kunden zufrieden sein sollen. – The boss believes that the customers should be satisfied.
Meine Frau meint, dass ich ihre Gedanken lesen kann. – My wife thinks I can read her thoughts.
Das Kind meint, dass der Weihnachtsmann echt ist. – The child believes that Santa Claus is real.
Wir meinen es nicht böse. – We don’t mean it in a mean way.
Was meint ihr? – What do you think? (Alternatively: What do you mean?)
Sie meinen, es ist nicht höfflich. – They mean it isn’t polite.
36. fragen – to ask
This verb is pretty easy to figure out. It is a regular verb. It translates almost directly from English to German and the usage is very similar in both languages.
Ich frage mich auch. – I am asking myself as well.
Warum fragst du mich? – Why are you asking me?
Er fragt einfach nach etwas Wasser. – He is simply asking for some water.
Was fragt deine Frau? – What is your wife asking?
Mein Kind fragt mich immer nach Geld. – My child always asks me for money.
Wir fragen die Lehrerin. – We are asking the teacher.
Fragt ihr den Mann, was er dort macht? – Are you asking the man what he is doing there?
Die Kinder fragen einfach alles. – The children simply ask everything.
37. kennen – to know (nouns)
This one is often confused with the verb “wissen”, which also means “to know”. While “wissen” is used for facts or what I call “nuggests of information”, “kennen” is used with nouns (i.e. people, places, and things). Some people also translate this verb as “to be acquainted with”. This allows you to avoid the confusion of having two verbs that mean “to know”.
Ich kenne deine Mutter. – I know your mother.
Kennst du mich noch? – Do you still know me?
Mein Vater kennt deine Schwester. – My father knows your sister.
Seine Schwester kennt die Stadt sehr gut. – His sister knows the city very well.
Das Kind kennt mich irgendwie. – The child knows me somehow.
Wir kennen dieses Buch nicht. – We don’t know this book.
Kennt ihr den Muffinmann? – Do you know the muffin man?
Alle kennen den Muffinmann. – Everyone knows the muffin man.
38. gelten – to be valid
This verb is a bit complicated. While I gave it the nice translation of “to be valid” here, it isn’t so easily translated sometimes. It can mean “to apply”, “to pertain”, or “to be effective”. If you add the conjunction “als”, it means “to be considered”.
Ich gelte als Narr. – I am considered a fool.
Du giltst als Freund. – You are considered a friend.
Dieser Vortrag gilt für die Vereinigten Staaten. – This treaty applies to the United States.
Die Wette gilt. – The bet is on.
Das gilt nicht. – That doesn’t apply.
Warum gelten wir nicht? – Why don’t we count?
Ihr geltet doch. – You do count.
39. stellen – to place, set
This is one of the verbs that is often used in examples for the two-way prepositions (Wechselpräpositionen). “Stellen” requires a direct object, which is why it is used with the accusative case when used with a two-way preposition.
Ich stelle den Ball auf den Tisch. – I am putting the ball on the table.
Warum stellst du den Ball auf den Tisch? – Why are you putting the ball on the table?
Der Angestellte stellt den Reisepass auf den Schalter. – The employee is putting the passport on the counter.
Die Lehrerin stellt das iPhone auf den Schreibtisch. – The teacher is putting the iPhone on the desk.
Das Känguru stellt das junge Känguru in den Kängurubeutel.
Wir stellen unsere Papiere in die Tasche. – We are putting our papers in the bag.
Was stellt ihr in die Taschen? – What are you putting in your pockets?
Die Kinder stellen ihre Spielzeuge zurück. – The children are putting their toys back.
40. spielen – to play
There really isn’t much to say about this verb. If you can play it in English, you can use “spielen” in German, more than likely. This works for games as well as when you are pretending to do something (ex. acting).
Ich spiele gern Schach. – I like playing chess.
Was spielst du gern? – What do you like playing?
Der Schauspieler spielt Doktor Herald in diesem Film. – The actor is playing Doctor Herald in this film.
Die Schauspieler spielt Frau Riemenschneider in diesem Fernsehprogramm. – The actress plays Mrs. Riemenschneider in this TV show.
Wir spielen heute Fußball. – We are playing soccer today.
Spielt ihr Tennis? – Do you play tennis?
Die Kinder spielen in der Straße. – The children are playing in the street.
Next week, I will be uploading a lyrical analysis of the song “Gewinner” by Clueso. You can see that song below. It should be pretty clear what the topic of the week should be. Obviously, the week after that I will be uploading the next 10 verbs on our list and posting another blog post like this one where I explain the verbs in more detail and show you some examples of them in action.