How to Conjugate "Stehen" (to Stand) in German

A Common and Useful Verb in Every Tense and Mood

Caucasian woman with grandson
Blend Images - Roberto Westbrook/Getty Images

The German verb stehen means "to stand." It is a strong (irregular) verb, so it doesn't follow the common rules that apply to German verb conjugations. This means that you will have to memorize each form of the verb in the various tenses.

The good news is that the past tense of stehen is stand, which gives you have a great start on this lesson. We'll also explore the present and future tenses, dive deeper into the past, and study the imperative and subjunctives.

Principal Parts: stehen -  stand - gestanden

Past Participle: gestanden

Imperative (Commands): (du) Steh! - (ihr) Steht! - Stehen Sie!

Stehen in the Present Tense (Präsens)

The best place to begin is with the present tense (präsens) forms of stehen. These conjugations allow you to say things like "I am standing" and "we are standing" and you'll use these frequently.

Many times, it helps your memorization of verb conjugations if you practice them within a sentence. It doesn't have to be complex, just simple, short statements such as these:

  • Steh gerade! - Stand up straight!
  • Wo steht das Haus? - Where is (stands) the house?
ich steheI stand/am standing
du stehstyou stand/are standing
er steht
sie steht
es steht
he stands/is standing
she stands/is standing
it stands/is standing
wir stehenwe stand/are standing
ihr stehtyou (guys) stand/
are standing
sie stehenthey stand/are standing
Sie stehenyou stand/are standing

Stehen in the Simple Past Tense (Imperfekt)

There are many past tense forms of German verbs, but the most common is the simple past tense (imperfekt). This is the primary way that you will say "stood" so it's good to concentrate on these words and commit them to memory.

ich standI stood
du standstyou stood
er stand
sie stand
es stand
he stood
she stood
it stood
wir standenwe stood
ihr standetyou (guys) stood
sie standenthey stood
Sie standenyou stood

Stehen in the Compound Past Tense (Perfekt)

Another past tense form of stehen is the compound past tense, otherwise known as the present perfect (perfekt). This has a special use for those times when you say that someone "stood" but you're not clear as to when that action took place. You might also use it if someone "stood" and is still "standing" right now.

ich habe gestandenI stood/have stood
du hast gestandenyou stood/have stood
er hat gestanden
sie hat gestanden
es hat gestanden
he stood/has stood
she stood/has stood
it stood/has stood
wir haben gestandenwe stood/have stood
ihr habt gestandenyou (guys) stood
have stood
sie haben gestandenthey stood/have stood
Sie haben gestandenyou stood/have stood

Stehen in the Past Perfect Tense (Plusquamperfekt)

When the action of "standing" happened before some other action in the past, you will use the past perfect tense (plusquamperfekt). For example, "I stood outside waiting for the doors to open."

ich hatte gestandenI had stood
du hattest gestandenyou had stood
er hatte gestanden
sie hatte gestanden
es hatte gestanden
he had stood
she had stood
it had stood
wir hatten gestandenwe had stood
ihr hattet gestandenyou (guys) had stood
sie hatten gestandenthey had stood
Sie hatten gestandenyou had stood

Stehen in the Future Tense (Futur)

In English, we use the future tense all the time, but it's used with less frequency in German. Many times, people prefer to use the present tense with an adverb instead. This is similar to the present progressive in English: Er steht morgen an. means "He's going to stand tomorrow."

ich werde stehenI will stand
du wirst stehenyou will stand
er wird stehen
sie wird stehen
es wird stehen
he will stand
she will stand
it will stand
wir werden stehenwe will stand
ihr werdet stehenyou (guys) will stand
sie werden stehenthey will stand
Sie werden stehenyou will stand

Stehen in the Future Perfect (Futur II)

ich werde gestanden habenI will have stood
du wirst gestanden habenyou will have stood
er wird gestanden haben
sie wird gestanden haben
es wird gestanden haben
he will have stood
she will have stood
it will have stood
wir werden gestanden habenwe will have stood
ihr werdet gestanden habenyou (guys) will have stood
sie werden gestanden habenthey will have stood
Sie werden gestanden habenyou will have stood

Stehen as Used in Commands (Imperativ)

There are three command (imperative) forms, one for each "you" word. In addition, the "let's" form is used with wir.

(du) steh!stand
(ihr) steht!stand
stehen Sie!stand
stehen wir!let's stand

Stehen in the Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I)

The subjunctive is a mood and 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). Rare in conversational use, the Subjunctive I is often seen in newspapers, usually in the third person. For example, er stehe means "he is said to stand."

ich stehe (würde stehen)*I stand
du stehestyou stand
er stehe
sie stehe
es stehe
he stands
she stands
it stands
wir stehenwe stand
ihr stehtyou (guys) stand
sie stehenthey stand
Sie stehenyou stand

*Because the Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I) of stehen in the first person (ich) and the plural are identical to the indicative (normal) form, the Subjunctive II is sometimes substituted.

Stehen in the Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II)

The Subjunctive II (Konjunktiv II) expresses wishful thinking, contrary-to-reality situations, and is used to express politeness. The Subjunctive II is based on the simple past tense (stand), adding an umlaut and "e" to create stände.

Since the subjunctive is a mood and not a tense, it can be used in various tenses. Below are examples that illustrate how stehen forms the subjunctive in past or future time. In such cases, the subjunctive forms of haben (to have) or werden (to become) are combined with stehen.

ich ständeI would stand
du ständestyou would stand
er stände
sie stände
es stände
he would stand
she would stand
it would stand
wir ständenwe would stand
ihr ständetyou (guys) would stand
sie ständenthey would stand
Sie ständenyou would stand
er habe gestandenhe is said to have stood
ich hätte gestandenI would have stood
sie hätten gestandenthey would have stood
er werde gestanden habenhe will have stood
ich würde stehenI would stand
du würdest gestanden habenyou would have stood