Languages › German How to Conjugate the German Verb 'Sein' 'Sein' is one of the first verbs you need to learn in German Share Flipboard Email Print Plume Creative/Digital Vision/Getty-Images German Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar By Hyde Flippo German Expert Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture. our editorial process Hyde Flippo Updated February 27, 2020 Even if you never wanted to quote Hamlet's famous soliloquy in German ("Sein oder nicht sein"), the verb sein is one of the first verbs you should learn and one of the most useful. Think of how often you use the phrase "I am" in English, and you'll get the idea. As in most languages, the verb "to be" is one of the oldest verbs in German, and therefore one of the most irregular. Here's the scoop on the verb sein and how to conjugate it in all the different ways. Present Tense (Präsens) of 'Sein' in German and English Notice how similar the German and English forms are in the third person (ist/is). DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich bin I am du bist you (familiar) are er istsie istes ist he isshe isit is wir sind we are ihr seid you (plural) are sie sind they are Sie sind you (formal) are Examples: Sind Sie Herr Meier? Are you Mr. Meier?Er ist nicht da. He's not here. Past Tense (Vergangenheit) of 'Sein' in German and English Simple past tense - Imperfekt DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich war I was du warst you (familiar) were er warsie wares war he wasshe wasit was wir waren we were ihr wart you (plural) were sie waren they were Sie waren you (formal) were Compound past tense (present perfect) - Perfekt DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich bin gewesen I was/have been du bist gewesen you (familiar) werehave been er ist gewesensie ist gewesenes ist gewesen he was/has beenshe was/has beenit was/has been wir sind gewesen we were/have been ihr seid gewesen you (plural) werehave been sie sind gewesen they were/have been Sie sind gewesen you (formal) were/have been Past perfect tense - Plusquamperfekt DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich war gewesen I had been du warst gewesen you (familiar) had been er war gewesensie war gewesenes war gewesen he had beenshe had beenit had been wir waren gewesen we had been ihr wart gewesen you (plural) had been sie waren gewesen they had been Sie waren gewesen you (formal) had been Future Tense (Futur) Note: The future tense, especially with "sein," is used much less in German than in English. Very often the present tense is used with an adverb instead. For example: Er kommt am Dienstag. (He'll arrive on Tuesday.) DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich werde sein I will be du wirst sein you (familiar) will be er wird seinsie wird seines wird sein he will beshe will beit will be wir werden sein we will be ihr werdet sein you (plural) will be sie werden sein they will be Sie werden sein you (formal) will be Future Perfect - Futur II DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich werde gewesen sein I will have been du wirst gewesen sein you (familiar) will have been er wird gewesen seinsie wird gewesen seines wird gewesen sein he will have beenshe will have beenit will have been wir werden gewesen sein we will have been ihr werdet gewesen sein you (guys) will have been sie werden gewesen sein they will have been Sie werden gewesen sein you will have been Commands (Imperativ) There are three command (imperative) forms, one for each German "you" word. In addition, the "let's" form is used with wir (we). DEUTSCH ENGLISH (du) sei be (ihr) seid be seien Sie be seien wir let's be Examples: Sei brav! | Be good!/Behave yourself! Seien Sie still! | Be quiet!/No talking! Subjunctive I - Konjunktiv I The subjunctive is a mood, not a tense. The Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I) is based on the infinitive form of the verb. It is most often used to express indirect quotation (indirekte Rede). Note: This verb form is most often found in newspaper reports or magazine articles. DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich sei I am (said to be) du sei(e)st you are (said to be) er seisie seies sei he is (said to be)she is (said to be)it is (said to be) wir seien we are (said to be) ihr seiet you (pl.) are (said to be) sie seien they are (said to be) Sie seien you (formal) are (said to be) Subjunctive II - Konjunktiv II The Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) expresses wishful thinking and contrary-to-reality situations. It is also used to express politeness. The Subjunctive II is based on the simple past tense (Imperfekt). This "sein" form resembles English examples, such as "If I were you, I wouldn't do that." DEUTSCH ENGLISH ich wäre I would be du wärest you would be er wäresie wärees wäre he would beshe would beit would be wir wären we would be ihr wäret you (pl.) would be sie wären they would be Sie wären you (formal) would be Since the Subjunctive is a mood and not a tense, it can also be used in various tenses. Below are several examples. ich sei gewesen I am said to have been ich wäre gewesen I would have been wäre er hier, würde er... if he were here, he would ... sie wären gewesen they would have been How to Conjugate Gehen in German The Conjugation of "Werden" (to become) in German How to Conjugate "Stehen" (to Stand) in German German Verb Conjugation of Sprechen (To Speak) How to Conjugate the German Verb "Haben" German Verb Conjugations: Tun (To Do) German Verbs: How to Recognize the German Subjunctive I, II How to Conjugate the German Verb "Laufen" (to Run, Walk) How to Conjugate The German Word Finden Conjugating the German Verb Verstehen How to Conjugate the German Verb "Heissen" (to Call) German Regular Verbs: Past Tenses How to Conjugate "Beginnen" (to Begin) in German How to Conjugate the Verb "Helfen" (to Help) Conjugation of Lesen: German Verb Lesen Conjugating the German Verb Sehen, Meaning 'to See'