Present Tense Verb Conjugations of German Regular Verbs

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The regular German verbs follow a predictable pattern in the present tense. Once you learn the pattern for one regular German verb, you know how all German verbs are conjugated. Yes, there are irregular verbs that don't always follow the rules, but even they will usually have the same endings as the regular verbs. The majority of German verbs are regular, even though it may not seem that way since many commonly used verbs are strong (irregular) verbs.

The chart below lists two sample regular German verbs. All regular German verbs will follow the same pattern. We have also included a helpful list of the more common stem-changing verbs. These are verbs that follow the normal pattern of endings, but have a vowel change in their stem or base form (hence the name "stem-changing"). The verb endings for each pronoun are indicated in bold type.

The Basics

Each verb has a basic infinitive (“to”) form. This is the form of the verb you find in a German dictionary. The verb “to play” in English is the infinitive form (“he plays“ is a conjugated form). The German equivalent of “to play” is spielen. Each verb also has a stem form, the basic part of the verb left after you remove the -en ending. For spielen the stem is spiel. To conjugate the verb—that is, use it in a sentence—you must add the correct ending to the stem. If you want to say “I play” you add an -e ending: “ich spiele” (which can also be translated into English as “I am playing”). Each “person” (he, you, they, etc.) requires its own ending on the verb. This is called “conjugating the verb.”

If you don't know how to conjugate verbs correctly it means your German will sound strange to people who understand the language. German verbs require more endings for the various “persons” than English verbs. In English we use only an s ending or no ending for most verbs: “I/they/we/you play” or “he/she plays.” German has a different ending for almost all of those verb situations: ich spielesie spielendu spielster spielt, etc. Observe that the verb spielen has a different ending in most of the examples in the chart below. If you want to sound intelligent in German, you need to learn when to use which ending. Check out the chart below.

Spielen / To PlayPresent Tense - Präsens

Deutsch English Sample Sentence
SINGULAR
ich spiele

I play

Ich spiele gern Basketball.

du spielst you (fam.)
play

Spielst du Schach? (chess)

er spielt

he plays

Er spielt mit mir. (with me)
sie spielt

she plays

Sie spielt Karten. (cards)
es spielt

it plays

Es spielt keine Rolle. (It doesn't matter.)

PLURAL
wir spielen

we play

Wir spielen Basketball.

ihr spielt

you (guys) play

Spielt ihr Monoploy?

sie spielen

they play

Sie spielen Golf.
Sie spielen

you play

Spielen Sie heute? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)

Verb Stem Ends in -d or -t

Connecting -e examples
Applies only to duihr, and er/sie/es

arbeiten
to work
er arbeitet

Arbeitest du heute?

finden

to find

du findest

Findet ihr das?

Also see related verb links/pages below.

Now let's look at another kind of German verb, a stem-changing verb. Technically, sprechen (to speak) is a strong verb, not a regular verb. But in the present tense the verb sprechen is regular except for a stem change from e to i. That is, the verb changes its stem vowel, but the endings are the same as for any other regular verb in the present tense.

Note that all stem changes only occur with the singular pronouns/person du and the third person singular (ersiees). The first person singular (ich) and all the plural forms do NOT change. Other stem-changing verb patterns include  a to ä and e to ie. See the examples below. Note that the verb endings remain normal.

Sprechen/To SpeakPresent Tense - Präsens

Deutsch

English Sample Sentence
SINGULAR
ich spreche

I speak

Ich spreche am Telefon.
du sprichst

you (fam.) speak

Sprichst du am Telefon?
er spricht

he speaks

Er spricht mit mir. (with me)
sie spricht

she speaks

Sie spricht Italienisch.
es spricht

it speaks

Es spricht laut. (loudly)
PLURAL

wir sprechen

we speak

Wir sprechen Deutsch.
ihr sprecht

you (guys) speak

Sprecht ihr Englisch?
sie sprechen

they speak

Sie sprechen Italienisch.
Sie sprechen

you speak

Sprechen Sie Spanisch? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)

Other Stem-Changing Verbs

English In Use
fahren

drive, travel

er fährt, du fährst

geben

to give

es gibt, du gibst
lesen

to read

er liest, du liest

Note: These stem-changing verbs are strong (irregular) verbs, but they have regular verb endings in the present tense.