Regular German Conjugation in Present Tense

The last lesson showed you all of the German subject pronouns and introduced you to the idea of getting your verb to match your subject. Today I will explain regular German conjugation in the present tense.

This lesson is a part of Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“. Within the e-book, this lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills you are about to learn. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here. It is also available as a paperback on Amazon.

For all of the materials Herr Antrim has ever created about the present tense in German including this lesson, worksheets, answer keys, mp3 versions of lessons and more, click here.

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Present Tense Regular Conjugation - Beginner German with Herr Antrim Lesson #8.2

What is Conjugation?

Conjugation is the process of changing the verb to match the subject of the sentence. Since you are watching this video, I’m going to assume you speak English well enough to understand how this works in English. There are usually only two forms of a verb in English. For example: I go, you go, he goes, we go, they go. Your options are “go” or “goes”. If you mix them up, people will look at you funny. “I goes to the store.” You sound like Ralph from the Simpsons.

In German there are a few more options. Let’s start with the verb “sagen”, which means “to say”.

sagen – to say
ich sage – I say
du sagst – you say
er sagt – he says
sie sagt – she says
es sagt – it says
wir sagen – we say
ihr sagt – you say
sie sagen – they say
Sie sagen – you say

Regular German Present Tense Conjugation Endings

When conjugating in German regular conjugation in the present tense is defined by verbs that don’t do anything fancy before the verb ending. We start with the verb infinitive, which is a fancy way of saying the version you find in the dictionary. Remove the “-en” at the end. The form without the -en is called the verb stem. Then add the endings: -e, -st, -t, -en, -t, and -en. Usually when I make conjugation charts they look like this.

sagen – to say
ich sage – I say
du sagst – you say
er, sie, es sagt – he, she, it says
wir sagen – we say
ihr sagt – you say
sie, Sie sagen – they, you say

Regular German Present Tense Conjugation Example Sentences

I’d like to show you a few more examples, but conjugation charts are boring and don’t teach much vocabulary, so instead I will show you example sentences with some of the most commonly used verbs in the German language. For the third person singular (er, sie, es) form of the verb, I’ll just choose one of the three pronouns for the example sentence. I’ll do the same thing for they (sie) and you (Sie).

machen – to make

Ich mache das Bett.
I make the bed.

Du machst mich glücklich.
You make me happy.

Er macht einen Rückzieher.
He is making a retraction.

Wir machen Musik.
We are making music.

Ihr macht einen guten Job.
You are doing a good job.

Sie machen ein Angebot.
They are making an offer.

kommen – to come

Ich komme gleich wieder.
I’m coming right back.

Kommst du mit ins Kino?
Are you coming to the movies?

Sie kommt nach Hause.
She is coming home.

Wir kommen zu dir.
We are coming to you.

Kommt ihr zum Abendessen?
Are you coming to dinner?

Woher kommen Sie?
Where do you come from? (Where are you from?)

Examples with Fewer Pronouns

Of course, you don’t have to use the pronouns for conjugation of German verbs in the present tense. Pronouns replace nouns, so logically, you should be able to use a noun instead of a pronoun. You can’t really do this with “ich”, as using your own name would mean you use the third person singular form “er” or “sie”. Also it makes you sound like a weirdo to speak in the third person. Either that or you are Elmo. (My Elmo impression) “Elmo wants to play a game. Elmo likes games.” You can’t get around using the pronoun “du” either, as you have to actually say “you”. Anyway, here are some examples of a verb without using as many pronouns.

gehen – to go

Ich gehe ins Bett.
I’m going to bed.

Gehst du in die Schule?
Are you going to school?

Das Mädchen (es) geht nicht ans Telefon.
The girl isn’t going to the telephone.

Mein Bruder und ich (wir) gehen in den Park.
My brother and I are going to the park.

Du und dein Bruder (ihr) geht jetzt zur Schule.
You and your brother are going to school now.

Der Mann und seine Frau (sie) gehen zur Bibliothek.
The man and his wife are going to the library.

Verbs That Don’t Require -S with Du

Certain German verbs in the present tense use conjugation forms slightly different than the usual -st for the “du” form. Instead they simply take -t. The last letter of the stem of these verbs are one of the following: s, ß, x, or z. The reason is that you simply wouldn’t hear the actual s-sound of the -st ending, so we just leave it out of the conjugation. The rest of the verb forms for these verbs are normal. I’ll give you an example of each.

reisen – to travel

Ich reise gern nach Deutschland.
I like to travel to Germany.

Reist du nach Berlin?
Are you traveling to Berlin?

Der Mann reist nicht.
The man is not traveling.

Meine Familie und ich (wir) reisen durch Europa.
My family and I (we) are traveling through Europe.

Wohin reist ihr?
To where are you traveling?

Die Kinder reisen mit ihren Eltern.
The children are traveling with their parents.

heißen – to be called

Ich heiße Levi.
I am called Levi.

Wie heißt du?
How are you called? (What is your name?)

Sie heißt Sandra.
She is called Sandra.

Wir heißen Jim und Bob.
We are called Jim and Bob.

Wie heißt ihr?
How are you called? (What are your names?)

Wie heißen Sie?
How are you called? (What is your name?)

relaxen – to relax

Ich relaxe in meinem Haus.
I am relaxing in my house.

Warum relaxt du nicht?
Why don’t you relax?

Er relaxt im Park.
He relaxes in the park.

Wir relaxen zusammen.
We relax together.

Relaxt ihr oft?
Do you relax often?

Die Studenten relaxen in der Mensa.
The students are relaxing in the dining hall.

setzen – to set, put, place

Ich setze mich hin.
I am setting myself down.

Warum setzt du dich nicht auf das Sofa?
Why don’t you set yourself down on the sofa?

Der Hund setzt sich in der Küche hin.
The dog sets himself down in the kitchen.

Wir setzen die Kuscheltiere auf den Tisch.
We are setting the stuffed animals on the table.

Was setzt ihr auf den Boden?
What are you setting onto the floor?

Setzen Sie sich hin?
Are you setting yourself down?

When to Add the Pronunciation-Aiding -E

If the last letter of the verb stem is “D” or “T”, you need to add “E” between the stem (the part of the verb before the -en) and the conjugation ending for “du”, “er”, “sie”, “es” and “ihr”, because otherwise the word would be practically impossible to pronounce. The additional “E” makes the word easier to pronounce. Here are some examples of this.

finden – to find

Ich finde dich süß.
I think you are cute.

Findest du die Katze?
Are you finding the cat? (Have you found the cat?)
If you tried to say this sentence without the additional “E” between the stem and the ending, you would end up with “findst”. It is a struggle to get through the verb like this, so we add -e.

Die Lehrerin findet den Fehler.
The teacher finds the mistake.

Wir finden einfach keine Wohnung.
We simply aren’t finding an apartment.
(meaning you are having trouble finding one.)

Findet ihr mich hübsch?
Do you find me handsome?

Die Bewerber finden Jobs.
The applicants find jobs.

arbeiten – to work

Ich arbeite als Lehrer.
I am working as a teacher.

Wo arbeitest du heutzutage?
Where do you work nowadays?

Meine Mutter arbeitet in einer Anwaltskanzlei.
My mother works in a law firm.

Mein Kumpel und ich arbeiten am Auto.
My buddy and I are working on the car.

Arbeitet ihr zusammen?
Do you work together?

Die Verbrecher arbeiten einen Plan aus.
The criminals are working out a plan.

Verbs with Multiple Consonants

Adding an “E” is also necessary when the verb stem ends with two consonants that make different sounds. This isn’t very common, but it is important to know.

atmen – to breathe

Ich atme tief ein.
I breathe in deeply.

Du atmest aus.
You breathe out.

Der Opfer atmet nicht mehr.
The victim isn’t breathing anymore.

Wir atmen dieselbe Luft.
We are breathing the same air.

Ihr atmet Sauerstoff.
You breathe oxygen.

Die Fische atmen im Wasser.
The fish breathe in the water.

Point of Clarification

To be clear, this conjugation rule does not apply to regular German verbs that have two of the same consonants together in the present tense, as we saw earlier with the verb “kommen” or when you have two consonants that flow together. This includes the verb “folgen”, which has two consonants “L” and “G”, which are next to each other, but because they flow together when you say them, you don’t separate the stem and the verb ending with an extra “E”.

folgen – to follow

Ich folge deinem Schatten.
I am following your shadow.

Verfolgst du die Nachrichten?
Do you follow the news?
In this sentence I added the prefix “ver-”, but the verb conjugation is the same. We’ll talk about prefixes in a later video.

Der Sklave folgt dem Sklavenbesitzer.
The slave follows the slave owner.

Wir folgen unserer Mutter.
We are following our mother.

Folgt ihr mir auf Twitter?
Do you follow me on Twitter?

Folgen Sie Trixi auf Instagram?
Do you follow Trixi on Instagram?

Verbs without -EN

Some verbs don’t end in -en, but instead end with just -n. The conjugation of these regular German verbs in the present tense simply removes the -n in order to find the verb stem. Then when you get to the verb forms that usually take -en, you simply add -n instead.

handeln – to handle, deal (with)

Ich handele das. (Ich handle das.)
I am dealing with that. (I will deal with that.)
Here you have the option of removing the “E” before the “L” to make it flow nicer. It is not necessary, however. It is perfectly acceptable to keep that extra “E” in the verb. You might also hear “ich handel”, but this is technically not correct. Just know that some native speakers might say it that way.

Wie handelst du das?
How are you dealing with that?

Es handelt von einem Mädchen.
It deals with a girl.

Wir handeln mit Dow Jones-Aktien.
We trade with Dow Jones Industrial Average stock.

Handelt ihr an der New Yorker Börse?
Do you trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Die Börsenhändler handeln nicht nur an der New Yorker Börse sondern auch an der NASDAQ.
The stock brokers trade not only on the New York Stock Exchange, but also on the NASDAQ.

Now you know all you need to know in order to conjugate any regular verb in German in the present tense. There are still irregular verbs to talk about, but I’ll save those for a different video.

For a much more in-depth look at the present tense in German, click here.

More Examples in Another Video

German for Beginners #10: German Conjugation Skit

Beginner German with Herr Antrim

Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“ is your guide to having your first conversation in German. Within the e-book, each lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills in that lesson. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here. It is also available as a paperback book on Amazon.

Lessons within “Beginner German with Herr Antrim

Last update on 2024-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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