How to Conjugate "Geben" (to Give) in German

Conjugating a Common Verb in the Past and Present Tenses

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The German verb geben means "to give" and it's a word that you will use quite often. In order to say "I am giving" or "she gave," the verb needs to be conjugated to match the tense of your sentence. With a quick German lesson, you'll understand how to conjugate geben into the present and past tenses.

An Introduction to the Verb Geben

While many German verbs follow common rules that help you make the appropriate changes to the infinitive form, gebben is a bit more of a challenge. It does not follow any patterns because it is both a stem-changing verb and an irregular (strong) verb. This means that you will need to carefully study all of its verb forms.

Principal Parts: geben (gibt) - gab - gegeben

Past Participle: gegeben

Imperative (Commands): (du) Gib! (ihr) Gebt! Geben Sie!

Geben in the Present Tense (Präsens)

The present tense (präsens) of geben will be used anytime you want to say that the action of "giving" is happening right now. It's the most common use of the verb, so it's best to familiarize yourself with these forms before moving on.

You will notice the change from "e" to "i" in the du and er/sie/es present tense forms. This is the stem change that can make this word a little trickier to memorize.

As you're learning the forms of geben, use it to create sentences such as these to make memorizing them a little easier.

  • Bitte gib mir das!Please give me that.
  • Wir geben ihm das Geld.We're giving him the money.

Geben is used in the idiom es gibt (there is/there are).

Deutsch English
ich gebe I give/am giving
du gibst you give/are giving
er gibt
sie gibt
es gibt
he gives/is giving
she gives/is giving
it gives/is giving
es gibt there is/there are
wir geben we give/are giving
ihr gebt you (guys) give/are giving
sie geben they give/are giving
Sie geben you give/are giving

Geben in the Simple Past Tense (Imperfekt)

In the past tense (vergangenheit), geben has a few different forms. Among those, the most common is the simple past tense (imperfekt). This is the easiest way to say "I gave" or "you gave."

Geben is used in the idiom es gab (there was/there were).

Deutsch English
ich gab I gave
du gabst you gave
er gab
sie gab
es gab
he gave
she gave
it gave
es gab there was/there were
wir gaben we gave
ihr gabt you (guys) gave
sie gaben they gave
Sie gaben you gave

Geben in the Compound Past Tense (Perfekt)

Also called the present perfect past tense (perfekt), the compound past tense is not used as often as the simple past, though it is useful to know.

You will use this form of geben when the action of giving did happen in the past, but you're not specific about when that was. In some contexts, it can also be used to imply that the "giving" did and continues to occur. For instance, "I have given to the charity for years."

Deutsch English
ich habe gegeben I gave/have given
du hast gegeben you gave/have given
er hat gegeben
sie hat gegeben
es hat gegeben
he gave/have given
she gave/have given
it gave/have given
es hat gegeben there was/there were
wir haben gegeben we gave/have given
ihr habt gegeben you (guys) gave/have given
sie haben gegeben they gave/have given
Sie haben gegeben you gave/have given

Geben in the Past Perfect Tense (Plusquamperfekt)

When using the past perfect tense (plusquamperfekt), you are indicating that the action occurred after something else did. An example of this may be, "I had given to the charity after the tornado came through town."

Deutsch English
ich hatte gegeben I had given
du hattest gegeben you had given
er hatte gegeben
sie hatte gegeben
es hatte gegeben
he had given
she had given
it had given
es hatte gegeben there had been
wir hatten gegeben we had given
ihr hattet gegeben you (guys) had given
sie hatten gegeben they had given
Sie hatten gegeben you had given