41-50 Most Used German Verbs

    This week’s German Learning Tip video was the present tense conjugation of the top 41-50 most used German verbs according to the German Professor. You can watch the conjugation video below or keep scrolling to see each one explained in greater detail and see them in example sentences.

    41. arbeiten – to work

    As in English, you can work in places and for people and companies. This is the same in German. In order to say these things, you will need a few prepositions. Take a look at the examples below to figure out how to express each type.

    Ich arbeite in Edwardsville. – I work in Edwardsville.

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    Wo arbeitest du? – Where do you work?

    Mein Vater arbeitet in einer Autowerkstatt. – My father works at an auto repair shop.

    Meine Mutter arbeitet bei McDonald’s. – My mother works at McDonald’s.

    Das Mädchen arbeitet gar nicht. – The girl doesn’t work at all.

    Wir arbeiten für unseren Vater. – We work for our father.

    Arbeitet ihr hier seit lange? – Have you worked here long?

    Die Rechtsanwälte arbeiten bei Allen & Overy LLP. – The lawyers work at Allen & Overy LLP.

    42. brauchen – to need

    This verb is incredibly straight forward. It is most commonly used with a direct object, but occationally it is also used like the English phrase “need to” with an infinitive.

    Ich brauche einen Kuli um zu schreiben.

    Brauchst du ein Tempo? – Do you need a Kleenex?

    Der Journalist braucht einen geheimen Informant. – The journalist needs a secret informant.

    Die Sekretärin braucht eine Verabredung. – The secretary needs an appointment.

    Das Fenster braucht Fliegengitter. – The window needs screens.

    Wir brauchen noch nicht nach Hause zu gehen. (umgangsprache) – We don’t need to go home yet. (slang)

    Braucht ihr etwas? – Do you need anything?

    Die Kinder brauchen Abendessen. – The children need dinner.

    43. folgen – to follow

    This is a dative verb, which means it needs a dative object. If you want to see this in more detail, you can watch some of my 3 Minuten Deutsch video explaining this and read my blog post about it.

    Ich folge den Regeln. – I follow the rules.

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    Folgst du mir? – Are you following me?

    Der Junge folgt dem Mädchen. – The boy is following the girl.

    Die Frau folgt dem Mann. – The woman is following the man.

    Das Mädchen folgt dem Jungen. – The woman is following the boy.

    Wem folgen wir? – Whom are we following?

    Wem folgt ihr mit den Augen? – Whom are you following with your eyes?

    Die Studenten folgen dem Gespräch mit Interesse. – The students are following the conversation with interest.

    44. lernen – to learn

    This verb is often mixed up with a very similar one in German, “studieren”. The difference is pretty simple. If you are studying for something or learning a particular topic, you would use “lernen”. If you are studying at a place or in persuit of a degree, you would use “studieren”.

    Ich lerne Deutsch. – I am learning German.

    Lernst du für die Prüfung? – Are you studying for the test?

    Mein Vater lernt Griechisch. – My father is learning Greek.

    Die Krankenschwester lernt Anatomie. – The nurse is learning anatomy.

    Das Pferd lernt nie. – The horse never learns.

    Wir lernen, wie man ein Lebkuchenhaus baut. – We are learning how one makes a ginger bread house.

    Was lernt ihr heute? – What are you learning today?

    Die Schüler lernen nichts. – The students are learning nothing.

    45. bestehen – to exist, insist, pass (exam)

    This verb is an excellent example of when an inseparable prefix that changes the meaning of the original verb entirely. The verb without the prefix would be “stehen”, which means “to stand”. Usually, the prefix “be-” makes the verb take a direct object. In this case, it does that, but it also subtly changes a bit more.

    Ich bestehe morgen meine Prüfung. – I will pass my test tomorrow.

    Du bestehst das Examen mit knapper Not. – You are scraping through the exam.

    Der Tisch besteht aus einer Granitplatte und vier Beinen. – The table consists of a granite top and four legs.

    Die Küche besteht aus Elektrogeräten und Küchenschränken. – The kitchen is made up of electronic devices and kitchen cabinets.

    Das Haus besteht aus vier Zimmern. – The house consists of four rooms.

    Wir bestehen, dass die Kinder im Wohnzimmer bleiben müssen. – We insist that the children have to stay in the livingroom.

    Besteht ihr immer die Prüfungen? – Do you always pass the tests?

    Sie bestehen, dass die Kunden Hemden anhaben. – They insist that the customers have shirts on.

    46. verstehen – to understand

    This is actually the same base verb as the previous one, but this time we have the prefix “ver-“, which has a variety of meanings, but none of the usual suspects really fit this time. You may notice that there is a clear connection to the English word this time. Notice the transition: stehen – to stand, verstehen – to understand. Also, because it seemed like a good idea, the following examples will show you the difference between the nominative and accusative case pronouns.

    Ich verstehe dich. – I understand you.

    Verstehst du mich? – Do you understand me?

    Er versteht sie. – He understands her.

    Sie versteht ihn. – She understands him.

    Es versteht nichts. – It doesn’t understand anything.

    Wir verstehen euch. – We understand you.

    Versteht ihr uns? – Do you understand us?

    Die Kinder verstehen sie. – The children understand them.

    47. setzen – to set, put, place

    This verb is often used to illustrate the two-way prepositions (Wechselpräpositionen), because it is the opposite of the pair “sitzen” (sit) and “setzen” (set). “Setzen” requires a direct object, while “sitzen” can’t use one. Be careful, however, when you use “setzen”. It is often confused or misused with the verb “stellen” (put) or “legen” (lay). Each of these have pretty specific uses. If you are putting something down that ends in a lying position, you use the verb “legen”. If the object ends in a sitting position, use “setzen”. If it ends in a standing position, use “stellen”.

    Ich setze mich auf den Stuhl. – I am setting myself on the chair.

    Warum setzt du dich nicht an den Tisch. – Why don’t you set yourself at the table?

    Der Taxifahrer setzt sich in das Auto. – The taxi driver sets himself in the car.

    Die Mutter setzt das Baby auf den Tisch. – The mother is setting the baby on the table.

    Das Mädchen setzt sich auf das Sofa. – The girl set herself on the sofa.

    Wir setzen uns an den See. – We set ourselves down at the lake.

    Warum setzt ihr euch nicht hin? – Why don’t you set yourselves down?

    Setzen Sie sich hier hin? – Are you setting yourself down here?

    48. bekommen – to get, receive

    This verb is very confusing for German learners, because it is so closely related to the word “kommen” (come), which is the base of this verb. The “be-” prefix usually makes it so that the verb takes a direct object when it normally wouldn’t. When we add the “be-” this time, we end up with “receive” instead of “come”. The problem becomes that the verb “become” in English means “to turn into” or “to change” in some way. This is confusing to English speakers additionally, because the verb that they would actually use to mean “become” is “werden”, which is also used to form the future tense.

    Ich bekomme jedes Jahr einen neuen Hut. – I get a new hat every year.

    Was bekommst du zum Geburtstag? – What are you getting for your birthday?

    Mein Bruder bekommt einen neuen Computer. – My brother is getting a new computer.

    In Mathe bekommt sie immer eine Eins. – In math she always gets a one (A).

    Das Pferd bekommt Fohlen. – The horse is having foals.

    Wir bekommen, was wir wollen. – We get what we want.

    Bekommt ihr wirklich, was ihr wollt? – Do you really get what you want?

    Sie bekommen, was sie wollen. – They get what they want.

    49. beginnen – to begin

    This verb is pretty straight forward. What can I really say about a verb that means “begin” and is used accordingly?

    Ich beginne, an dich zu glauben. – I am beginning to believe in you.

    Du beginnst, mich zu nerven. – You are beginning to annoy me.

    Der Film beginnt um 3 Uhr. – The film begins at 3 o’clock.

    Die Show beginnt um 8 Uhr abends. – The show begins at 8 PM.

    Das Spiel beginnt erst morgen. – The game doesn’t begin until tomorrow.

    Bevor wir beginnen, müssen wir uns die Hände waschen. – Before we begin, we must wash our hands.

    Wann beginnt ihr, zu arbeiten? – When are you beginning to work?

    Die Spiele beginnen pünktlich um 12 Uhr. – The games begin punctually at 12 o’clock.

    50. erzählen – to tell

    This one is pretty simple as well, so I will just cut to the examples.

    Ich erzähle die besten Witze. – I tell the best jokes.

    Was erzählst du mir? – What are you telling me?

    Mein Vater erzählt seinen Enkeln Geschichten von seiner Kindheit. – My father is telling his grandkids stories of his childhood.

    Meine Mutter erzählt, wie sie mit einem Bären gekämpft hat. – My mother is telling how she fought with a bear.

    Das Kind erzählt Geschichten, die seine Eltern peinlich finden. – The child is telling stories that his parents think are embarassing.

    Wir erzählen die Wahrheit. – We are telling the truth.

    Ihr erzählt nich die Wahrheit. – You never tell the truth.

    Kinder erzählen nur die Wahrheit. – Children only tell the truth.

    What’s next?

    Next week I will be uploading another lyrical analysis video. The following week I will start a series of videos designed to help you understand some German grammar vocabulary so that you can understand the jargon and take your studies to the next level.

    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.