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).

    ich gebeI give/am giving
    du gibstyou give/are giving
    er gibt
    sie gibt
    es gibt
    he gives/is giving
    she gives/is giving
    it gives/is giving
    es gibtthere is/there are
    wir gebenwe give/are giving
    ihr gebtyou (guys) give/are giving
    sie gebenthey give/are giving
    Sie gebenyou 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).

    ich gabI gave
    du gabstyou gave
    er gab
    sie gab
    es gab
    he gave
    she gave
    it gave
    es gabthere was/there were
    wir gabenwe gave
    ihr gabtyou (guys) gave
    sie gabenthey gave
    Sie gabenyou 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."

    ich habe gegebenI gave/have given
    du hast gegebenyou 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 gegebenthere was/there were
    wir haben gegebenwe gave/have given
    ihr habt gegebenyou (guys) gave/have given
    sie haben gegebenthey gave/have given
    Sie haben gegebenyou 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."

    ich hatte gegebenI had given
    du hattest gegebenyou had given
    er hatte gegeben
    sie hatte gegeben
    es hatte gegeben
    he had given
    she had given
    it had given
    es hatte gegebenthere had been
    wir hatten gegebenwe had given
    ihr hattet gegebenyou (guys) had given
    sie hatten gegebenthey had given
    Sie hatten gegebenyou had given