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.

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:

Infinitive Present Indicative -Ich Imperfect Tense -Ich Past Participle
to say I say I said (have) said
sagen sage sagte (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

German English
ich bin I am
du bist you are
(informal, singular)
er/sie/es ist he/she/it is
wir sind we are
ihr seid you are
(informal, plural)
sie, Sie sind they are
you (formal, singular/plural)

haben to have

German English
ich habe I have
du hast you have
(informal, singular)
er/sie/es hat he/she/it has
wir haben we have
ihr habt you have
(informal, plural)
sie, Sie haben they have
you have (formal, singular/plural)

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

German English
ich werde I will/shall be
du wirst you will/shall be
(informal, singular)
er/sie/es wird he/she/it will/shall be
wir werden we will/shall be
ihr werdet you will/shall be
(informal, plural)
sie, Sie werden they 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

German English
ich lernE I learn, I am learning
du lernST you learn / are learning
(informal, singular)
er/sie/es lernT he/she/it learns, is learning
wir lernEN we learn, are learning
ihr lernT you learn, are learning
(informal, plural)
sie, Sie lernEN they, 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.

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How to learn German verbs the easy way.

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