Today I’ll teach you how to conjugate 99.999 % percent of all German verbs in present tense. German conjugation is really easy, so it will be a piece of cake… believe me! 😉
German verbs require more different endings than English verbs. Almost all of the verbs end in -en (,,lernen” – to learn, ,,fragen” – to ask, ,,leben” – to live). But some only have -n like ,,erinnern” (to remember, to remind). The missing e has just disappeared over time. To conjugate the verb you must remove the -en and add the correct ending to the “stem” form of the verb. The ends are:
,,Regelmäßige Verben” (Regular Verbs)
- Typ 1: Verbstamm + Personalendung
- Typ 2: Verbstamm (mit t oder d) + Endung
- Typ 3: Verbstamm (mit ß oder s) + Endung
By the way, German has no Present Progressive Tense (“am going”, “are buying”, …). For example, the German ,,ich kaufe” can be translated into English as “I buy” or “I am buying“, depending on the context.
Stem-changing verbs only change in the singular (except for ich). For them, a simple ending is not enough to match the person as they essentially want to get a vowel-lifting. Only a and e can be lifted: a changes to ä and e changes to i or ie. Their plural forms are completely regular.
Here are some examples:
- schlafen (to sleep) – du schläfst – er/sie/es schläft
- geben (to give) – du gibst – er/sie/es gibt
- fahren (to travel) – du fährst – er/sie/es fährt
- nehmen (to take) – du nimmst – er/sie/es nimmt
- lesen (to read) – du liest – er/sie/es liest
- vergessen (to forget) – du vergisst – er/sie/es vergisst
Not all verbs with an a or e as stem-vowel need this kind of change. So, when you have a vocabulary book you should mark the changing ones, because this is something that will come over time.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake there, it will just makes you sound a little foreign. 😉