Present Tense German Conjugation
If you are just starting out with the German language, this blog post is for you. The video below serves as a general introduction to the conjugation of the most important verbs in the German language. By the end of this blog, you will be able to conjugate practically every verb in the German language in the present tense. This includes regular verbs (weak verbs), irregular verbs (stem-changing verbs or strong verbs), and “haben” (to have) and “sein” (to be).
Since this video is simply the conjugation of several verbs in short conversations, the script is not available below, but you can find all of that information via the images I have provided below the video. If you want to download the script as a side-by-side file with German and English next to each other or get an MP3 download of this, you can get that by supporting my work on Patreon. By supporting my work, you also get access to the worksheets I create for each video.
There are nine pronouns in German. Three of the pronouns translate as “you”: “du”, “ihr”, and “Sie”. Both “du” and “ihr” are what are referred to as “informal”. “Sie” is considered “formal”. While this may seem stiff, it isn’t really. “Sie” is used not only when you are talking to a person of authority, but also when you are talking to strangers. You would also use this form when talking to coworkers. The “du” and “ihr” forms are used when you are talking to family members and people you are familiar with. For this reason, some people call the “du” and “ihr” forms the familiar forms and the “Sie” form the unfamiliar form. “Sie can be either singular or plural, but “du” is always singular and “ihr” is always plural.
The other pronouns are pretty straight forward. Their translations are listed below.
ich – I
du – you (singular, familiar/informal)
er – he
sie – she
es – it
wir – we
ihr – you (plural, familiar/informal)
sie – they
Sie – you (singular or plural, unfamiliar/formal)
You may have noticed that there are three words with the same spelling listed above, “sie”. This is confusing to some German learners, but it is easy to tell the difference based on the context of a conversation of the conjugation of the verb, which is the purpose of this post.
Regular verbs in the German language usually end with -en. In order to conjugate the verbs (make them agree with the subject of the sentence), you need to remove the -en and add different letters. The endings are as follows:
er, sie, es -t
sie, Sie -en
Nothing other than the ending changes on a regular verb. Here are a few examples from the video.
For more information about the conjugation of regular verbs in German, check out my 3 Minuten Deutsch series, in which I talk in more depth about each of the pronouns and their uses.
There are three kinds of verbs in German that are categorized as “stem-changing” verbs. They are called this, because the stem changes. The stem of the verb is the part before the -en at the end. If there is an “a” in the stem, it changes to an “ä” in the “du” and “er, sie, es” forms of the verb. If the stem has an “e”, it sometimes changes to an “i” and other times it changes to “ie”. The examples used in the video are listed below.
For more information about the stem-changing verbs, check out episode #11 of the 3 Minuten Deutsch series, my worksheet video from a few years ago, and my incredibly off key parody of “Changes” by David Bowie that teaches about the stem-changing verbs.
haben & sein
Two of the most used verbs in German are also two of the most irregular ones. There isn’t a good way to explain the pattern of these two verbs, because they are simply irregular. The conjugation of these two verbs can be found below.
For more information about the conjugation of “haben” and “sein”, I have the conjugation song for these two verbs, the 3 Minuten Deutsch episode for “haben”, the worksheet video for both verbs, and the 3 Minuten Deutsch episode for “sein”.
I have also included one more video on this blog post to help you learn to conjugate a lot of German verbs. While some of the verbs in this video are not covered by the rules explained above, this video will get you started on learning some of the most important verbs in the German language.