German Verbs - Examples - Regular and Irregular Verbs

Sample sentences of German weak and strong verbs

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Weak (regular) verbs follow a predictable pattern and do not vary in the way strong verbs do.

1. arbeiten (to work) - regular (weak) verb; -tet ending

  • Present: Er arbeitet bei SAP. - He works at SAP. (is working)
  • Past/Preterite: Er arbeitete bei SAP. - He worked at SAP. (was working)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Er hat bei SAP gearbeitet. - He worked at SAP. (has worked)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Er hatte bei SAP gearbeitet. - He had worked at SAP.
  • Future/Futur: Er wird bei SAP arbeiten. - He will work at SAP.

2. spielen (to play) - regular (weak) verb

  • Present: Sie spielt Karten. - She's playing cards.
  • Past/Preterite: Sie spielte Karten. - She played cards. (was playing)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Sie hat Karten gespielt. - She played cards. (has played)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Sie hatte Karten gespielt. - She had played cards.
  • Future/Futur: Sie wird Karten spielen. - She will play cards.

3. mitspielen (to play along) - regular (weak) verb - separable prefix

  • Present: Sie spielt mit. - She's playing along.
  • Past/Preterite: Sie spielte mit. - She played along. (was playing along)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Sie hat mitgespielt. - She played along. (has played along)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Sie hatte mitgespielt. - She had played along.
  • Future/Futur: Sie wird mitspielen. - She will play along.

Strong (Irregular) German Verbs: Various Tenses

These verbs have irregular forms and must be memorized

1. fahren (to drive, travel) - strong, irregular verb; stem-changing

  • Present: Er fährt nach Berlin. - He's driving/traveling to Berlin.
  • Past/Preterite: Er fuhr nach Berlin. - He went/traveled to Berlin.
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Er ist nach Berlin gefahren. - He went/traveled to Berlin. (has traveled)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Er war nach Berlin gefahren. - He had gone to Berlin.
  • Future/Futur: Er wird nach Berlin fahren. - He will travel to Berlin.

2. sprechen (to speak) - strong, irregular verb

  • Present: Er spricht Deutsch. - He speaks German. (is speaking)
  • Past/Preterite: Er sprach Deutsch. - He spoke German. (was speaking)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Er hat Deutsch gesprochen. - He spoke German. (has spoken)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Er hatte Deutsch gesprochen. - He had spoken German.
  • Future/Futur: Er wird Deutsch sprechen. - He will speak German.

3. abfahren (to depart) - strong verb - separable prefix

  • Present: Wir fahren morgen ab. - We leave/depart tomorrow. (are departing)
  • Past/Preterite: Wir fuhren gestern ab. - We left yesterday. (were leaving)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Wir sind gestern abgefahren. - We left yesterday. (have departed)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Wir waren gestern abgefahren. - We had left yesterday.
  • Future/Futur: Wir werden morgen abfahren. - We will leave/depart tomorrow.

4. besprechen (to discuss) - strong verb - inseparable prefix

  • Present: Wir besprechen dieses Thema. - We are discussing this topic.
  • Past/Preterite: Wir besprachen das gestern. - We discussed that yesterday. (were discussing)
  • Pres. Perfect/Perfekt: Wir haben das gestern besprochen. - We discussed that yesterday. (have discussed)
  • Past Perfect/Plusquamperfekt: Wir hatten das vorgestern besprochen. - We had discussed that the day before yesterday.
  • Future/Futur: Wir werden das morgen besprechen. - We will discuss that tomorrow.

Special Verb Examples

Past action continuing into the present (present tense):

  • He has been living in Berlin for three years. (and he still is)
  • Er wohnt schon seit drei Jahren in Berlin.

Action ending in the past:

  • He lived (used to live) in Berlin for three years. (but no longer does)
  • Er hat drei Jahre lang in Berlin gewohnt.
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Flippo, Hyde. "German Verbs - Examples - Regular and Irregular Verbs." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Flippo, Hyde. (2020, August 27). German Verbs - Examples - Regular and Irregular Verbs. Retrieved from Flippo, Hyde. "German Verbs - Examples - Regular and Irregular Verbs." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).