Did you know you can use the song “Gewinner” by Clueso to learn how to conjugate German verbs in the present tense? In this post I will teach you the basics of conjugation in the present tense in German with the song “Gewinner” by Clueso. As an added bonus you will learn more with the song “Verlierer” also by Clueso.
Present Tense Verb Endings
Let’s start with the endings for each pronoun. When you conjugate a German verb, each pronoun gets its own special ending that shows that the verb matches the pronoun. This is called “subject-verb agreement”. If you are reading this blog, I will assume you are familiar with English. If someone would say in English, “I goes to the store” you would know what they mean, but you would also know that their English skills are lacking. The same type of problem comes up in German. Take the following conjugation of the verb “gehen” (to go) as an example with the English equivalent.
As you can see from this example, in order to conjugate a verb, you start by removing the -en from the end of the infinitive. After that you add the proper ending to go with the pronoun. “Ich” takes -e; du -st; er, sie, & es -t; wir -en; ihr -t; and sie & Sie -en.
The STD Rule of German Present Tense Conjugation
You can conjugate a lot of verbs if you simply know those endings, but there are also a few extra rules to know. If the pronunciation of a form of the verb would become difficult due to the last letter of the verb-stem (the part without the -en on it), you sometimes will add an “e” between the verb stem and the ending. This usually occurs when there is a “d” or “t” at the end of the verb-stem and will only ever effect the “du”, “er, sie, es” and “ihr” forms of the verb, as the “ich”, “wir” and “sie” forms all already have an “e”. Here are a couple of examples of that.
You also add an “e” between the stem and the ending if the stem ends in what I call a “consonant cluster”. This means that there are two different sounding consonants together at the end of the stem. For example a verb-stem that ends with “gn” like “regnen” (to rain) will take the form “regnet” to go with the “er, sie, es” form. This rule, however, does not apply to verbs that end with two of the same consonant like “kommen” (to come). Here is a full example.
The “S” Part of the STD Rule
The only other rule that you really need to worry about with regular verbs is that a verb-stem which ends with “s” or something that resembles the sound of “s” will not take an “s” for the “du” form. It will simply take a “t”, making the “du”, “er, sie, es” and “ihr” forms the same. This rule also applies to “ß”, “x”, and “z”. Here are a few examples of this rule in action.
Now that you know the rules for conjugation in the present tense with regular verbs, you can officially conjugate most German verbs in the present tense. If you want to know what verbs you can conjugate now, you should check out the “50 most important regular verbs” from GermanVeryEasy.com.
Verlierer by Clueso
If you missed the hidden extra link at the end of the “Gewinner” and you missed out on seeing the lyrical analysis of the song “Verlierer”, you can see that below. Under that video, you can find the song itself.
Easy Irregular Verbs in German
As I mentioned in the video above, some verbs are irregular in German in the present tense. There are actually two forms of irregularities that happen in the present tense. The first is a predictable irregularity. This only effects the “du” and “er, sie, es” forms of the verbs. There are three changes involved with this type of verb. These verbs change either from “a” to “ä”, “e” to “i”, or “e” to “ie”. I have included two examples of each in the images below.
If you want to have a more complete list of verbs that make one of these changes, you can check out Vistawide’s page about that. They have a pretty extensive list of irregular verbs and even show you how they change in other tenses. You can now conjugate most of the verbs on that list.
Weird Irregular Verbs in German
The second category of irregular verbs are those who follow their own rules. These walk to the beat of their own drum and are best simply learned as you see them. The three that I suggest you get acquainted with the quickest are “haben”, “sein”, and “wissen”. You can see them conjugated below.
There is still one more category to go, which are the modal auxiliaries. I’ve already covered them in three other blog posts so I will just link them here, here and here. Now you can conjugate any verb you ever come across in the German language in the present tense. That being said, it may be difficult for you to figure out what category a verb belongs in. The easy solution is to go to Verbix, the online conjugator. You can see my review of that site here. Keep in mind that the site has changed considerably since I did the review.