Top 21-30 Most Used German Verbs

This week’s German learning tip video is the conjugation of the next 10 verbs on my list of the top 100 most used German verbs. You can watch the conjugation video below. If you want a copy of the conjugation as a PDF file, you can download it here. If you want to see these verbs in action and get some additional information about their usage, you can find it below the video.

21. denken – to think

This verb is pretty popular when talking about your thoughts on a particular topic. It is also followed by the conjunction “dass” and then a subordinate clause. This means that the conjugated verb goes to the end of that clause.

Ich denke, also bin ich.

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Ich denke, dass du bald ins Bett gehen sollst. – I think that you should go to bed soon.

Denkst du, dass du klüger als ich bist? – Do you think that you are smarter than I?

Der Junge denkt, dass er alles schon weiß. – The boy thinks that he already knows everything.

Die Mutter denkt, dass ihr Sohn hübsch ist. – The mother thinks that her son is handsome.

Das Kind denkt, dass sein Vater der stärkste Mann der Welt ist. – The child thinks that his father is the strongest man in the world.

Wir denken, dass wir fliegen können. – We think that we can fly.

Denkt ihr, dass Deutsch schwierig ist? – Do you think that German is difficult?

Die Schüler denken, dass Schule langweilig ist. – The students think that school is boring.

22. nehmen – to take

This verb is used in many of the same ways that it is in English. You can use it to take an object from its current location, you can use it in the phrase “to take one’s time”, and you can use it in the phrase “to make time for someone”. You can also use it with the separable prefix “mit” in order to say you are taking something along.

Ich nehme vier Bücher in den Urlaub mit. – I am taking four books along on vacation.

Nimmst du dir Zeit für deine Hausaufgaben? – Do you take time for your homework?

Der Junge nimmt seine Spielzeuge von dem anderen Jungen. – The boy takes his toys away from the other boy.

Die Lehrerin nimmt den Schummelzettel von dem Schüler. – The teacher is taking the cheat sheet from the student.

Das Pferd nimmt das Heu ins Maul. – The horse takes the hay into its mouth.

Mein Vater und ich nehmen Kekse von der Küche. – My father and I are taking cookies from the kitchen.

Nehmt ihr euch Zeit für Schlafen? – Do you take time to sleep?

Die Räuber nehmen unser Geld. – The robbers are taking our money.

23. tun – to do

There are two verbs in German that can be used to mean “to do”. A lot of people have a problem figuring out when to use “tun” and when to use “machen”. Both are used in various idiomatic expressions and both are translated as “to do” in certain situations. The main difference is that “machen” can also be translated as “to make”. Generally speaking, “machen” is used in the creation of something whether is be physical or in your head. “Tun”, on the other hand, generally has to do with affecting something or the act of doing something. This means that in certain situations, “tun” and “machen” can be used interchangably, which is part of the reason there is so much confusion about these two verbs.

Ich tue alles. – I do everything. Es tut mir leid, dass ich deinen Schuh gegessen habe.

Was tust du? – What are you doing?

Er tut mir weh. – He is hurting me. (Lit. He is doing me pain.)

Sie tut etwas. – She is doing something.

Das tut uns leid. – We are sorry. (Lit. That causes us pain.)

Was tun wir heute? – What are we doing today?

Tut ihr etwas Gutes? – Are you doing anything good?

Sie tun das Buch in die Tasche. – They are putting the book in the bag.

24. dürfen – may, to be allowed to

This is one of the modal auxiliaries that I covered in my 3 Minuten Deutsch series a few weeks ago. It is usually used with another verb in the infinitive form at the end of the sentence.

Darf ich heute Abend ins Kino? – May I go to the movies this evening?

Darfst du das zu Hause machen? – Are you allowed to do that at home?

Der Busfahrer darf nicht so lange fahren. – The bus driver isn’t allowed to drive for that long.

Die Ärztin darf Medikamente verschreiben. – The doctor (female) is allowed to prescribe medications.

Das Kind darf nicht mehr im Haus spielen. – The child is no longer allowed to play in the house.

Wir dürfen rodeln. – We are allowed to sled.

Dürft ihr mit uns ins Kino? – Are you allowed to go with us to the movies?

Die Mitarbeiter dürfen früh nach Hause gehen. – The employees are allowed to go home early.

25. glauben – to believe

“Glauben” and “denken” are sometimes confused by German learners, because they don’t quite understand the subtle difference between “to believe” and “to think” in English. English speakers tend to use these two interchangeably, but I haven’t seen it done as often in German. There are certain times when the difference is so slight that there isn’t much of a point about arguing about it, but there are other times when it only makes sense with one or the other. Both “glauben” and “denken” can be used with the conjunction “dass”, but they don’t have to be. If you just add the secondary clause to the end of the first one separated by a comma, you can use normal word order instead of messing with that pesky subordinating conjunction. The downside is that if you use “glauben” with a direct object, that object has to be used in the dative case. You can avoid this by using prepositional phrases sometimes, but the meaning changes if you do that. Glaubst du immer noch an den Weihnachtsmann?

Ich glaube, ich kann fliegen. – I believe I can fly.

Glaubst du an Gott? – Do you believe in God?

Der Priester glaubt an Engel. – The priest believes in angels.

Die Nonne glaubt an Jesus. – The nun believes in Jesus.

Das Kind glaubt an den Weihnachtsmann. – The child believes in Santa Claus. (lit. the Christmas man)

Wir glauben den Kindern nicht. – We don’t believe the children.

Glaubt ihr mir nicht? – Don’t you believe me?

Die Polizisten glauben dem Verbrecher nicht. – The police officers don’t believe the criminal.

26. halten – to hold, stop

This verb is pretty versatile. It can mean “to hold” or it can mean “to stop”. This distinction doesn’t really make much sense until you see it in use.

Ich halte den Tennisschläger in meiner linken Hand. – I hold the tennis racket in my left hand.

Was hälst du von Chuck Norris? – What do you think of Chuck Norris?

Der Zug hält am Hauptbahnhof. – The train stops at the main train station.

Die Angestellte hält die Bordkarte in ihrer Hand. – The employee is holding the boarding pass in her hand.

Das Kind hält einen Lutscher. – The child is holding a lollipop.

Wir halten von ihm nichts. – We disapprove of him.

Was haltet ihr von dem Buch “Per Anhalter durch die Galaxis”? – What do you think of the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”?

Was halten die Kinder von den Eltern? – What do the children think of the parents?

27. nennen – to name, call

This verb is used to explain the name given to people and objects by other people.

Wir nennen unsere Kinder "Engel".

Das nenne ich Mut! – That’s what I call courage.

Bitte, nenn mich “Bob”. – Please, call me “Bob”.

Der Gangster nennt Namen. – The gangster is naming names.

Meine Frau nennt den Hund “Jojo”. – My wife calls the dog “Jojo”.

Das Kind nennt seinen Vater “Papi”. – The child calls his father “Daddy”.

Wir nennen unsere Kinder “Engel”. – We call our children “angels”.

Was nennt ihr euer Auto? – What do you call your car?

Die Verbrecher nennen den Polizist “Bulle”. – The criminals call the police man “copper”.

28. mögen – to like

Technically, “mögen” is another modal auxiliary that I covered several weeks ago, but the term “auxiliary” doesn’t really fit here as well as I would like. An auxilary is a verb that is used with another verb. “Mögen”, however, isn’t usually used with another verb. If you do use it with another verb, the translation changes considerably. It goes from “to like” to “may”. It is then used to illustrate things that you aren’t sure about their probability of happening in the future.

Ich mag Züge. – I like trains.

Magst du Kekse? – Do you like cookies?

Wer mag keine Kekse? – Who doesn’t like cookies?

Die Rechtsanwältin mag Gesetze. – The lawyer (female) likes laws.

Das mag sein, aber es ist mir egal. – That may be, but I don’t care.

Wir mögen unsere Autos. – We like our cars.

Mögt ihr alte Filme? – Do you like old films?

Die Vögel mögen Vogelfutter. – The birds like birdseed.

29. zeigen – to show

This verb is pretty straight forward. It isn’t used in anything all that fancy. It simply means “to show”. It is, however, most often used with a direct and indirect object, which means that it uses both the accusative and dative cases in most of the sentences with this verb.

Ich zeige dir, wo die Toilette ist. – I’ll show you where the bathroom is. Ich zeige dir den Weg.

Zeigst du uns den Weg? – Are you showing us the way?

Der Schulleiter zeigt den Kindern die Schule. – The headmaster shows the children the school.

Die Programmiererin zeigt dem Chef den Computer. – The computer programer is showing the boss the computer.

Das magische Liopleurodon zeigt uns den Weg. – The magical Liopleurodon shows us the way.

Wir zeigen euch das Haus. – We are showing you the house.

Was zeigt ihr uns? – What are you showing us?

Die Erwachsenen zeigen den Jugendlichen, wie man zu Hause kocht. – The adults are showing the young people how one cooks at home.

30. führen – to lead

This verb is used like you would expect it to be if you are a native English speaker, but it is also used in several idiomatic expresions that make no sense if you try to translate them literally.

Ich führe alte Damen über die Straße, denn ich bin nett. – I lead old women across the street, because I am nice.

Du führst uns in die falsche Richtung. – You are leading us in the wrong direction.

Er führt nichts Gutes im Schilde. – He is up to no good.

Sie führt das Pony an einer Leine. – She leads the pony on a leash.

Das Kind führt uns nicht. – The child isn’t leading us.

Wir führen ein Gespräch. – We are having a conversation.

Führt ihr oft? – Do you lead often?

Die Lehrer führen die Kinder. – The teachers lead the children.

That is the list for today. If you have any questions or comments about anything that was mentioned in this post, leave a comment below.

What’s next?

Next week I will be taking a look at the song “Junge” by Die Ärzte to teach you some German grammar. The next German verb list will be uploaded on the following Wednesday.

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. *This site uses Amazon Affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to Amazon, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going.