An introduction to help you learn German verbs - how they work.

The easiest way for you to learn German verbs is through the use of Memory Triggers.

This free online lesson will help you understand the main features and parts of German verbs.

Verbs are action words, and are a a vital part of every complete sentence in that they indicate the time of an action or state of being.

Here are the principal parts of each German verb:

  • Infinitive,
  • Present Tense,
  • Past Imperfect Tense, and the
  • Past Participle.
Don't be put off by these fancy terms - for example for the verb - run, the infinitive is simply to run. So simple huh!?

Just add the word 'to' to any verb and that is its 'pure' form - the fancy name for which is the infinitive.
Check out the other fancy names, and you'll see they just mean basic, easy things.

Learn German verbs as they are a a vital part of every complete sentence in that they indicate the time an action or state of being.

The principal part of each verb consists of the Infinitive, the Present Tense, Past Imperfect Tense, and the Past Participle.

For example:

InfinitivePresent Indicative -IchImperfect Tense -IchPast Participle
to sayI sayI said(have) said
sagensagesagte(habe) gesagt

The infinitive of most German verbs ends in -en, with the occasional verb ending in just -n. The German infinitive of the verb 'to say', is:


The structure of simple sentences in German is similar to English in that the verb comes after the subject.

However, the word order does change for if the verb is the second grammatical element in the sentence: e.g. questions (How do I?), and also after adverb phrases (this morning ...), after conjunctions (because...), and in compound sentences.

In both English and German there are weak (completely regular) verbs and strong (irregular) verbs. In German all verbs are either weak or strong, with the exception of a small group of nine mixed (irregular/weak) verbs, which we will learn about in another lesson.

Many German verbs are much like their English cognates in that they follow the same vowel shift patterns.

For example:

In English we say: drink, drank, drunk
In German we say: trinken, trank, getrunken

In English we use forms of the auxiliary verbs "have" or "to be" to form Perfect Tense verbs e.g. I have seen.

In German the following are used to conjugate the Compound tenses:

Past / Conditional Compound Tenses:

haben - to have

sein - to be
- for verbs expressing motion
- for verbs expressing an action only, not change of place
- for verbs expressing a change of state

Future / conditional Compound Tenses(for all verbs):
werden - to become

For example:
Ich habe gesagt. - I have said.
Ich bin gefahren. - I have traveled.
Ich werde sagen. - I will say.

Here are the basic conjugations of these three auxiliary verbs that should be memorized before you learn German verbs.

Learn German Verb Present
Tense Conjugations of:

sein to be

ichbinI am
dubistyou are
(informal, singular)
er/sie/esisthe/she/it is
wirsindwe are
ihrseidyou are
(informal, plural)
sie, Siesindthey are
you (formal, singular/plural)

haben to have

ichhabeI have
duhastyou have
(informal, singular)
er/sie/eshathe/she/it has
wirhabenwe have
ihrhabtyou have
(informal, plural)
sie, Siehabenthey have
you have (formal, singular/plural)

to become, "shall be", "will be"

ichwerdeI will/shall be
duwirstyou will/shall be
(informal, singular)
er/sie/eswirdhe/she/it will/shall be
wirwerdenwe will/shall be
ihrwerdetyou will/shall be
(informal, plural)
sie, Siewerdenthey will/shall be
you (formal, singular/plural)will/shall be

The endings for regular verbs in the Present Tense are in capitals below. Memorize these endings.

Learn German verb lernen - to learn - regular conjugations

ich lernE I learn, I am learning
du lernSTyou learn / are learning
(informal, singular)
er/sie/es lernThe/she/it learns, is learning
wir lernENwe learn, are learning
ihr lernTyou learn, are learning
(informal, plural)
sie, Sie lernENthey, you (formal)
learn, are learning

Learning German verbs is a big job because there are so many of them. Just how do you learn German verbs?

One of the most effective ways is by learning using the cartoon Memory Triggers of the 200 Words a Day! system. Memory experts tell us that the most effective way to remember something is to visualise it in a crazy, zany, silly scene... We make this easier by giving you cartoons that give you a hook to remembering the word.

Enjoy the online language school.

Learn German verbs and other words quick and fast - and remember vocabulary | Learn 101 German Proverbs | Foreign Service Institute FSI German Courses for Diplomats | Contact Us about learning German
Learning German verbs is made easier with Memory Trigger cartoons...
200 Words a Day! Excelerated Language Learning Software - Superlearning German made so simple and just so easy

Transcity Properties Ltd, Trading as Exceltra, 200 Words a Day!
32 Alverton, Great Linford, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK14 5EF, United Kingdom © 2007-2009 How to learn German verbs the easy way.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave us a comment in the box below.

IMAGINE how you'd

seeing your learning rate of 200 words a day ... the ideal companion course that complements any language course.











View all Courses