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- (spielen - en). 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. That's why we have this chart for you!

SPIELEN / TO PLAY
Present Tense - Präsens
DeutschEnglishSample Sentence
SINGULAR
ich spieleI playIch spiele gern Basketball.
du spielstyou (fam.)
play
Spielst du Schach? (chess)
er spielthe playsEr spielt mit mir. (with me)
sie spieltshe playsSie spielt Karten. (cards)
es spieltit playsEs spielt keine Rolle. (It doesn't matter.)
PLURAL
wir spielenwe playWir spielen Basketball.
ihr spieltyou (guys) playSpielt ihr Monoploy?
sie spielenthey playSie spielen Golf.
Sie spielenyou playSpielen 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 arbeitetArbeitest du heute?
finden
to find
du findestFindet 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/persons 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 includea to ä and e to ie. See the examples below.) Stem vowel changes are indicated below in red and a lighter background. Note that the verb endings remain normal.

SPRECHEN / TO SPEAK
Present Tense - Präsens
DeutschEnglishSample Sentence
SINGULAR
ich sprecheI speakIch spreche am Telefon.
du sprichstyou (fam.) speakSprichst du am Telefon?
er sprichthe speaksEr spricht mit mir. (with me)
sie sprichtshe speaksSie spricht Italienisch.
es sprichtit speaksEs spricht laut. (loudly)
PLURAL
wir sprechenwe speakWir sprechen Deutsch.
ihr sprechtyou (guys) speakSprecht ihr Englisch?
sie sprechenthey speakSie sprechen Italienisch.
Sie sprechenyou speakSprechen Sie Spanisch? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)
Other Stem-Changing Verbs
fahrendrive, traveler fährtdu fährst
gebento givees gibtdu gibst
lesento reader liestdu liest
   Note: These stem-changing verbs are strong (irregular) verbs, but they have regular verb endings in the present tense. 

 

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