VERB CONJUGATIONS in German: How to always get them right

VERB CONJUGATIONS in German: How to always get them right

VANESSA
Jetzt tanzen die Frau. Wieso tanzen sie?
(Now the woman dances. Why is she dancing?)

DENISA
Es heißt: Jetzt tanzt die Frau.
(It’s called: Now the woman dances.)

Not sure about the verb conjugations in German? That’s not a problem anymore. In this video I’ll show you how to use the verb conjugations in the present tense easily, without having to learn a conjugation table by heart. Ich bin Denisa von Spring German. (I’m Denisa from Spring German.) Los geht’s! (Let’s go)

1. Ich (I)

VANESSA
Ich arbeite als Mathelehrerin. Ich bringe meinen Schülern im Moment Sinus und Cosinus bei.
(I work as a math teacher. I teach my students sinus and cosinus at the moment.)

DENISA
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.
(I have no clue what you are talking about.)

If you haven’t learned the Personalpronomen (personal pronouns) yet, check Brundhild’s video about them here.

Chunk alert!

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. (I have no clue what you are talking about.) Literally you can translate it as “I only understand train station” but since that doesn’t make any sense you can memorize it as “I have no clue what you are talking about”. This is a very common chunk in Germany that you should learn as a whole. Plus, you don’t have to think about the verb conjugation.

If you don’t know what chunks are:

Chunks are word combinations that native speakers use all the time and that you can learn by heart as a whole. Get the most important German chunks in our free essential German chunking kit. The link is in the description.

Regular verbs in German always end with “en” in the infinitive, e.g.

  • arbeiten (to work)
  • verstehen (to understand)
  • gehen (to go)

Did you realize that the verbs ich arbeite (I work) and ich verstehe (I understand) in the dialogue always ended with an -E. The first person singular ich (I) always conjugates with an -E at the end if it’s a regular verb.

Other examples are:

  • Ich schaue fern. ( I watch TV.)
  • Ich singe gern. ( I love to sing.)
  • Ich liebe dich. ( I love you.)

2. Du (you)

VANESSA
Gehst du schon nach Hause?
(Are you already going home?)

DENISA
Ja. Ich besuche meine Großeltern.
(Yes. I visit my grandparents.)

VANESSA
Kommst du dann morgen wieder?
(Will you come tomorrow again?)

DENISA
Nein. Ich bleibe da für drei Tage.
(No. I stay there for 3 days.)

With du (you) the regular verbs always end with -ST , just like in the dialogue.

VANESSA
Gehst du schon nach Hause?
(Are you already going home?)

Other examples are:

  • du lachst schön (you smile beautifully)
  • du arbeitest schnell (you work fast)
  • du gehst zu langsam (you walk too slow)

3. Er, Sie, Es (he, she, it)

DENISA
Triffst du dich mit ihm heute?
(Will you meet him today?)

VANESSA
Ja. Er kocht heute Abend für mich. Er zündet Kerzen an. Das ist so romantisch!
(Yes. He cooks for me tonight. He lights the candles. That’s so romantic!)

DENISA
Das wird bestimmt schön. Du weißt ja: Liebe geht durch den Magen.
(That’s going to be beautiful for sure. You know: love goes through the stomach.)

Literally the proverb Liebe geht durch den Magen (love goes through the stomach) means love goes through the stomach. But in English you would normally say “The way through a man’s heart goes through his stomach”. Learn this chunk as a whole. That way you don’t have to think about any verb conjugation rules.

Do you know other proverbs in German or in your native language? Let me know in the comments down below.

In this dialogue there were a lot of verb conjugations:

  • Er kocht heute Abend für mich. (He cooks for me tonight.)
  • Er zündet Kerzen an.(He lights the candles.)
  • Liebe geht durch den Magen. (Love goes trough the stomach.)

Maybe you realized already. The forms for he/she/it always end with a -T.

4. Wir (we)

VANESSA
Wir gehen jetzt nach Hause. Danke für alles.
(We’re going home now. Thanks for everything.)

DENISA
Ach Schade. Wie kommt ihr nach Hause?
(What a pity. How are you getting home?)

VANESSA
Wir fahren mit dem Taxi.
(We go by taxi.)

When using wir (we) you don’t have to conjugate the verb. It’s the same as in the infinitive. Another Personalpronomen (personal pronoun) has also not to be conjugated. We will come to that in a second.

Other examples are:

  • Wir stehen vor der Tür. (We stand in front of the door.)
  • Wir lachen viel. (We laugh a lot.)
  • Wir kommen um neun Uhr. (We come at 9 o’clock.)

Grammar is important aber sollte nicht im Fokus stehen (but it shouldn’t be the main focus). Listening to a language is always the best way to learn it.

5. Ihr (plural you)

VANESSA
Arbeitet ihr schon lange zusammen?
(Have you been working together for a long time?)

DENISA
Ja. Wir arbeiten seit fünf Jahren zusammen.
(Yes. We’ve worked together for 5 years now.)

VANESSA
Ihr kennt euch also gut, oder?
(So you know each other well, right?)

DENISA
Ja. Wir gehen zusammen durch dick und dünn.
(Yes. We go through thick and thin together.)

Did you realize that the verbs with ihr end with -T? If you have the infinitives arbeiten (to work) and kennen (to know) you have to erase the -EN and put a -T at the end. This way you have the ihr (you) conjugation.

  • Ihr arbeitet (You work)
  • Ihr kennt (You know)

Other examples are:

  • Ihr backt (You bake)
  • Ihr geht (You go)
  • Ihr trinkt (You drink)

6. Sie (they)

VANESSA
Kennst du Jana und Marie?
(Do you know Jana and Marie?)

DENISA
Ja. Sie wohnen in meiner Nähe.
(Yes. They live near by.)

VANESSA
Cool. Sie arbeiten mit mir.
(Cool. They work with me.)

DENISA
Was für ein Zufall! Sie sind so nett, oder?
(What a coincidence! They are so nice, right?)

VANESSA
Ja. Sie essen manchmal mit mir zu Mittag.
(Yes. Sometimes they eat with me for lunch.)

With sie (they) the regular verbs end with -EN, so you don’t have to conjugate them. They stay in the same form as the infinitive, just like wir (we).

  • Sie wohnen in meiner Nähe. (They live near by.)
  • Sie arbeiten mit mir. (They work with me.)
  • Sie essen manchmal mit mir zu Mittag. (Sometimes they eat with me for lunch.)

In the dialogue they also said Sie sind so nett. (They are so nice). Sie sind (They are) is a form of the verb “sein” (to be). Sein (to be) is an irregular verb. You will learn more about that in an extra video.

Let’s look at the conjugation table for the verb arbeiten (to work) to sum up all the information. But don’t forget that you shouldn’t learn it by heart because you won’t remember this table in a conversation anyway.

PersonConjugationExampleColumn 4
Ich (I)arbeiteIch arbeite heute. (I work today.)
Du (you)arbeitestDu arbeitest im Kino. (You work in the cinema.)
Er,Sie,Es (he,she,it)arbeitetEr arbeitet morgen nicht. ( He doesn’t work tomorrow.)
Wir (we)arbeitenWir arbeiten im Restaurant. (We work at the restaurant.)
Ihr (you)arbeitetIhr arbeitet zusammen, oder? (You work together, don’t you?)
Sie (they)arbeitenSie arbeiten zusammen. (They work together.)

As you can see on the table, er, sie, es (he, she, it) and ihr (you) are conjugated the same way.

  • Er arbeitet (He works)
  • Ihr arbeitet (You work)

Same with Wir (we) and Sie (they).

  • Wir arbeiten (We work)
  • Sie arbeiten (They work)

So in German it’s important to say the personal pronoun with the verb. In other languages you can leave that out, e.g. in Spanish.

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