Stem-Changing Verbs Song

    This week I decided to tackle the stem-changing verbs in German with a song. While the lyrics are great for this song, my singing voice is still less than stellar. Hopefully, the point of the song isn’t lost in my tone-deafness. If you want to listen to the song, you can watch the video below. If you want to download it as an MP3, you can find that along with a worksheet on my Patreon page. If you want to learn more about these verbs and their changes in more depth, you should scroll past the video and learn more from this blog.

    The stem-changing verbs are called that because the stem of the verb (the part without -en at the end) changes in some way. The three categories are: a-ä, e-i, and e-ie. There are only a select few verbs that take each of these stem changes, but they all follow a pretty distinct pattern. The only time that this change occurs is with the “du” and “er, sie, es” forms of the verb. All of the other forms are perfectly regular like any other verb would be. Here are a few conjugation examples, so you can see what I mean.

    fahren – to drive

    ich fahre – I drive

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    du fährst – you drive

    er, sie, es fährt – he, she, it drives

    wir fahren – we drive

    ihr fahrt – you drive

    sie, Sie fahren – they, you drive

    geben – to give

    ich gebe – I give

    du gibst – you give

    er, sie, es gibt – he, she, it gives

    wir geben – we give

    ihr gebt – you give

    sie, Sie geben – they, you give

    sehen – to see

    ich sehe – I see

    du siehst – you see

    er, sie, es sieht – he, she, it sees

    wir sehen – we see

    ihr seht – you see

    sie, Sie sehen – they, you see

    There are a few other weird things that you have to keep in mind when working with the stem-changing verbs. If you have a verb stem that ends with a consonant that would normally require an -e to be added between the stem and the conjugated ending, but the stem changes from “a” to “ä”, you do not add the -e to these forms of the verb. This doesn’t happen very often, but it happens to a pretty common verb, so it is worth noting.

    einladen – to invite

    ich lade ein – I invite

    du lädst ein – you invite

    er, sie, es lädt ein – he, she, it invites

    wir laden ein – we invite

    ihr ladet ein – you invite

    sie, Sie laden ein – they, you invite

    It gets a bit weirder if the verb stem ends with -t and has a stem change from “a” to “ä”. In words like that, you don’t even add an ending for the “er, sie, es” form of the verb, because it already ends with a -t.

    halten – to hold

    ich halte – I hold

    du hältst – you hold

    er, sie, es hält – he, she, it holds

    wir halten – we hold

    ihr haltet – you hold

    sie, Sie halten – they, you hold

    If you are using one of these verbs in the command form, you usually keep the stem change for the “du” form of the verb, but you don’t keep the stem change if the verb falls into the category of a-ä. The other command forms are not effected by the stem changes.

    fahren – to drive

    Fahr! (du) – Drive!

    Fahrt! (ihr) – Drive

    Fahren Sie! – Drive!

    vorlesen – to read aloud

    Lies bitte vor! (du) – Please read aloud.

    Lest bitte vor! (ihr) – Please read aloud.

    Lesen Sie bitte vor! – Please read aloud.

    sprechen – to speak

    Sprich langsam! (du) – Speak slowly.

    Sprecht langsam! (ihr) – Speak slowly.

    Sprechen Sie langsam! – Speak slowly.

    Don’t forget that if the verb stem ends with an -s or something that sounds like an -s (ß, ss, x, or z), you don’t add an -s to the “du” form of the verb.

    essen – to eat

    ich esse – I eat

    du isst – you eat

    er, sie, es isst – he, she, it eats

    wir essen – we eat

    ihr esst – you eat

    sie, Sie essen – they, you eat

    lesen – to read

    ich lese – I read

    du liest – you read

    er, sie, es liest – he, she, it reads

    wir lesen – we read

    ihr lest – you read

    sie, Sie lesen – they, you read

    And that’s it really. They aren’t too difficult. The most difficult part about them is remembering which verbs have this change. Personally, I just like to pick these up as I go along, but some people like to try and memorize them in some sort of list. I prefer to add new vocabulary in a more natural setting like reading a book, listening to a song, or watching a movie.

    Stem-Changing Verbs Song

    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.