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German Conjugations

Conjugations are the changes a verb goes through depending on who is doing the action. Fortunately, conjugations follow some simple rules. All you have to do is change the ending of the verb according to the appropriate rule. There are also some exceptions; it wouldn’t be German if there weren’t any.

In this lesson, we will have a look at the regular German conjugations.

Resources for further reading:

How to pronounce German conjugations

Let’s start with the present tense and see how the verb endings change. Most verbs end in either –en or –n . Each type of verb (- en or – n) has a different set of endings.

-en verbs lachen (to laugh)

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ich lach-e

I laugh

du lach-st

You laugh

er lach-t

He laughs

sie lach-t

She laughs

es lach-t

It laughs

wir lach-en

We laugh

ihr lach-t

You (plural) laugh

sie lach-en

They laugh/You (polite) laugh

-en verbs segeln (to sail)

ich segel-e

I sail

du segel-st

You sail

er segel-t

He sails

sie segel-t

She sails

es segel-t

It sails

wir segel-n

We sail

ihr segel-t

You (plural) sail

sie segel-n

They sail/You (polite) sail

For example:

Sie lacht immer

She is always laughing

Wir segeln um die Welt

We are sailing around the world

Wir lachen über die gleichen Witze

We laugh at the same jokes

Er segelt mit seinen Freunden

He sails with his friends

Now let's see how regular verbs behave in the simple past tense.

-en verbs lachen (to laugh)

ich lach-te

I laughed

du lach-test

You laughed

er lach-te

He laughed

sie lach-te

She laughed

es lach-te

It laughed

wir lach-ten

We laughed

ihr lach-tet

You (plural) laughed

sie lach-ten

They laughed/You (polite) laughed

-n verbs segeln (to sail)

ich segel-te

I sailed

du segel-test

You sailed

er segel-te

He sailed

sie segel-te

She sailed

es segel-te

It sailed

wir segel-ten

We sailed

ihr segel-tet

You (plural) sailed

sie segel-ten

They sailed/You (polite) sailed

Zum Beispiel:

Sie lachte immer.

She was always laughing.

Wir segelten um die Welt.

We sailed around the world.

Wir lachten über die gleichen Witze.

We laughed at the same jokes.

Er segelte mit seinen Freunden.

He sailed with his friends.

As you can see, the endings for the simple past tense are similar to those of the present tense. There are just a few more t's... But what about the past participle? Finding the p.p. of regular verbs is really easy: you simply take the stem and add "ge" and "t" in this fashion:

  • ge + stem + t

So you will have:

Ich lache.

I laugh.

Ich habe gelacht.

I have laughed.

Ich segele.

I sail.

Ich habe gesegelt.

I have sailed.

Ich bin gesegelt.

I have sailed.

Ich mache.

I do.

Ich habe gemacht.

I have done.

Ich frage.

I ask.

Ich habe gefragt.

I have asked.

Ich spiele.

I play.

Ich habe gespielt.

I have played.

Ich baue.

I build.

Ich habe gebaut.

I have built.

Ich sage.

I say.

Ich habe gesagt.

I have said.

You'll have noticed that gesegelt can be preceded by either sein or haben. Unlike English, German uses both auxiliary when composing the present perfect tense. A quick way to tell when to use sein and when to use haben is this: you use the auxiliary sein if you have a status change or a motion, as in "I have gone to Berlin", ich bin nach Berlin gegangen, and you use the auxiliary haben for all the other verbs.

Our lesson on conjugations wouldn't be complete, however, without a quick glance at the future tense. How is this made? We've already seen the present conjugation of the irregular verb werden in one of the previous lessons, and this is all we need. There are no subject endings in the future tense, because all you have to do is pick the right conjugation of werden and add the base verb you need!

-en verbs lachen (to laugh)

ich werde lachen

I will laugh

du wirst lachen

You will laugh

er wird lachen

He will laugh

sie wird lachen

She will laugh

es wird lachen

It will laugh

wir werden lachen

We will laugh

ihr werdet lachen

You (plural) will laugh

sie werden lachen

They will laugh/You (polite) will laugh

-n verbs segeln (to sail)

ich werde segeln

I will sail

du wirst segeln

You will sail

er wird segeln

He will sail

sie wird segeln

She will sail

es wird segeln

It will sail

wir werden segeln

We will sail

ihr werdet segeln

You (plural) will sail

sie werden segeln

They will sail/You (polite) will sail

Here are a few recommended German lessons to try next!

Bis bald!

Paul Weber: Rocket German

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