Learn the German Verbs 'Haben' (to Have) and 'Sein' (to Be)

These are two of the most important German verbs

Germany, Hesse, Frankfurt, Roemerberg, Fountain of Justice at dusk
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The two most important German verbs are haben (to have) and sein (to be). As in most languages, the verb "to be" is one of the oldest verbs in German, and therefore one of the most irregular. The verb "to have" is only slightly less irregular, but no less vital to surviving speaking German.

The Rules of 'Haben' in German

We'll start with haben. Look at the following table for the conjugation of haben in the present tense, along with sample sentences.

Notice the strong resemblance to English for many forms of this verb, with most forms only one letter off from the English ( habe/have, hat/has). In the case of the familiar you (du), the German verb is identical to Old English: "thou hast" is "du hast."

Haben is also used in some German expressions that are translated with "to be" in English. For example: 

Ich habe Hunger. (I'm hungry.)

haben - to have
DeutschEnglishSample Sentences
ich habeI haveIch habe einen roten Wagen. (I have a red car.)
du hastyou (fam.)
Du hast mein Buch. (You have my book.)
er hathe hasEr hat ein blaues Auge. (He has a black eye.)
sie hatshe hasSie hat blaue Augen. (She has blue eyes.)
es hatit hasEs hat keine Fehler. (It has no flaws.)
wir habenwe haveWir haben keine Zeit. (We have no time.)
ihr habtyou (guys)
Habt ihr euer Geld? (Do y'all have your money?)
sie habenthey haveSie haben kein Geld. (They have no money.)
Sie habenyou haveHaben Sie das Geld? (You, sir, have no money.) Note: Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.

To Be or Not to Be (Sein Oder Nicht Sein)

Look at the following table for the conjugation of sein (to be) in the present tense. Notice how similar the German and English forms are in the third person (ist/is).

sein - to be
DeutschEnglishSample Sentences
ich binI amIch bin es. (It's me.)
du bistyou (fam.)
Du bist mein Schatz. (You are my darling.)
er isthe isEr ist ein netter Kerl. (He is a nice guy.)
sie istshe isIst sie da? (Is she here?)
es istit isEs ist mein Buch. (It is my book.)
wir sindwe areWir sind das Volk. (We are the people/nation.) Note: This was the slogan of 1989 East German protests in Leipzig.
ihr seidyou (guys)
Seid ihr unsere Freunde? (Are you guys our friends?)
sie sindthey areSie sind unsere Freunde. (They are our friends.)
Sie sindyou areSind Sie Herr Meier? (Are you, sir, Mr. Meier?) Note: Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.