German Irregular Verbs
You have learned that you can simply conjugate a verb by adding the appropriate ending to the stem of the verb. There are also some German irregular verbs where the stem changes as well.
But first let’s go back and review what a stem is. The stem of a verb is the part of the verb that is left once you take away the –en or – n ending. In regular verbs the stem does not change no matter what ending you add on to it.
Stem changes will become familiar to you over time, as many German verbs are “stem changing”. In most cases only the “you” and “he, she, it” form changes, but it wouldn’t be German if there weren’t exceptions. Let’s have a look at the most common German irregular verbs.
- ich bin - I am
- du bist - you are (informal)
- er/sie/es ist - he/she/it is
- wir sind - we are
- ihr seid - you are (plural)
- sie sind - they are
- Sie sind - you are (formal)
Pronouncing German Irregular Verbs
Now, in the present tense of other irregular verbs, some stems can undergo a vowel change from e to i. We can see this behavior in werden, but also in verbs like geben (to give) and helfen (to help). Other verbs change the e into ie, like lesen (to read), and others take on an umlaut, a two dots sign that is placed over the stem vowel, like fahren (to go, to travel). These changes can be found in the second and third person singular.
Essentially, the stem can change in the following ways:
- e > i
- e > ie
- a/o/u > ä/ö/ü