Content in this post
1. Definition of conjugation
2. The parts of a german verb
3. How to conjugate all german verbse
4. How to make correct sentences of the conjugated verbs
Table of content for verbs conjugation

Conjugation simply means relating a verb to a subject. What this means is that, a verb can only be conjugated to the subject of a sentence. German conjugation is quite different from that of English and also a little bit more tricky. It is based on three factors;

  • The verb-end
  • The stem
  • The stem- end
The three parts of a german verb

The verb-end which can either be “en“ or “n” can also indirectly determine the conjugating suffix of some verbs. It is the part of the verb that must first be detached before conjugation is done.

The stem contains the vowel that is liable to changes in certain verbs. It is the remainder of the verb after the verb ending has been detached. The verb category determines whether the verb would have a stem change or not. Weak verbs usually don’t have stem changes but strong verbs on the other hand usually make stem vowel changes where necessary.

Stem ending here is H

The stem-end on the other hand is the last letter of the stem. This is where the conjugating suffix gets attached. For certain verbs, there could be rules as to what stem-end gets attached to what suffix.

How to conjugate regelmäßige Verben/ german weak verbs

Subjectt, and ds, z and ßany other letterverbs ending with n
ich
du
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie/Sie
e
est
et
en
et
en
e
st
t
en
t
en
e
st
t
en
t
en
e
st
t
n
t
n
conjugation table for regelmäßige Verben

Note;

  • Column 1 is the suffix that should be attached to all weak verbs with stem-end “t” or “d” to their respective subjects.
  • Column 2 is the suffix for stem-ending “s,z and ß”
  • Column 3 is for all other stem-ending such as h, k, m etc
  • Column 4 is for all weak verbs that end with “n”. In this case, the stem-end is not required.

After the verb is broken into parts with the verb-ending first detached, the conjugating suffix should be attached to the stem at the stem-end based on the various stem-end category from the table above. Note it is easier to conjugate weak verbs when the table is memorised. An illustration using the verb kochen is given below.

The three parts of a german verb

From the table above, the stem-end h falls under the column of any other. Hence to the different subjects, the conjugation would be;

  • ich koche
  • du kochst
  • er/sie es kocht
  • wir kochen
  • ihr kocht
  • sie/Sie kochen

It is important to note that this conjugation table was formulated using subject pronouns. So, in the case of a subject noun, one must think of the corresponding subject pronoun to that noun.

Also study the illustration below.

conjugation of machen and arbeiten

**Note that when conjugating verbs that end with “n” and with stem-ending “l” such as “sammeln” to the first person pronoun “ich”, the “e” which precedes the “l” must first be omitted before the conjugation suffix is attached. This is not so for others with a different stem-end such as “klettern”.

Comparison of stem-end and conjugation of klettern and sammeln

How to conjugate unregelmäßige Verben/ german strong verbs

Recall that this category of German verbs has an irregular conjugation pattern and stem vowel changes. They can be conjugated with the column below.

SubjectsConjugation suffix
ich
du
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie/Sie
-e
-(e)st
-(e)t
-en
-(e)t
-en
Conjugation ending for unregelmäßige Verben

In addition to the conjugation suffix above, recall that some german strong verbs have a change of stem-vowel when conjugating them in their present tense. Some stem changes that occur in strong verbs include;

It is important to note the following;

  • Some strong verbs that end with d or t may add an e at du, er/sie/es and ihr subjects during conjugation.
  • These stem changes only take place at the second (du) and third person (er/sie/es) subject.
  • The stem vowel changes only take place in the first syllable.
  • “e” changes to “i” when the stress is on the first syllable and “ie” when the stress is on the second syllable.
  • “e” doesn’t change when the next letter immediately after it is “h” and the stress is on the first syllable with an exemption of “nehmen” where “eh” changes to “im”. See the illustrations below.
Usage
1. Jane is driving a car.–– Jane fährt ein Auto.

2. How do you find my hair?–– wie findest du mein Haar?

3. Is he reading a book?–– liest er ein Buch?

How to conjugate gemischte Verben (german mixed verbs)

This verb category can be conjugated with the weak verb table above under the column of “stem-ending with -n” except “wissen” which is conjugated differently and must be mastered.

conjugation of german modal verbs
Usage
1. Why are you running?–– warum rennst du?

2. We are naming our son “Mario”.–– wir nennen unseren Sohn “Mario”.

How conjugate trennbare Verben (separable verbs)

To conjugate these verbs, the prefix must first be detached or cut out from the root Verband then the root verb, depending on its type (whether weak,strong or mixed) should then be conjugated accordingly. Thereafter, the prefix must be placed at the end of the sentence. See illustration below.

Conjugation of anmachen, nachsehen and mitbringen
Usage
1. The passengers are getting on the bus.–– die Fahrgäste steigen den Bus an.

2. How do you get to know the people?–– wie lernst du die Leute kennen?

Untrennbare Verben (inseparable verbs)

Because the prefixes of these verbs can not be detached from them, they are conjugated with the prefixes attached. Just like separable verbs, the root verbs are conjugated based on their verb type. That is, inseparable weak verbs like weak verbs, inseparable strong verbs like strong verbs and inseparable mixed verbs like mixed verbs).

Conjugation of vergeben, erkennen, bezahlen and gefallen
Usage
1. I visit my parents on weekends.–– ich besuche am Wochenende meine Eltern.

2. Does she recognise the man?–– erkennt sie den Mann?

How to modal Verben (German modal verbs)

This category of verbs are not conjugated like the main verbs. They have no guidance as to their conjugation. Hence, they must be mastered just as they are. The good thing is that they are quite few in number 😜.

Subjectssollenwollendürfenmüssenkönnenmögen
ich
du
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie/Sie
soll
sollst
soll
sollen
sollt
sollen
will
willst
will
wollen
wollt
wollen
darf
darfst
darf
dürfen
dürft
dürfen
muss
musst
muss
müssen
müsst
müssen
kann
kannst
kann
können
könnt
können
mag
magst
mag
mögen
mögt
mögen
conjugation of german modal verbs
Usage
1. Are you allowed to drive a car?–– darfst du ein Auto fahren?

2. She has to take her medication.–– sie muss ihr Medikament nehmen.

Hilfsverben (German auxiliary verbs)

They have no regulating table. Hence they must be mastered as well.

Subjectsseinhabentunwerden
ich
du
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie/Sie
bin
bist
ist
sind
seid
sind
habe
hast
hat
haben
habt
haben
tue
tust
tut
tun
tut
tun
werde
wirst
wird
werden
werdet
werden
conjugation of german auxiliary verbs
Usage
1. I am a girl and you are a boy.–– ich bin ein Mädchen und du bist ein Junge.

2. Will Sara still buy the toy for the child?–– wird Sara noch dem Kind das Spielzeug kaufen?

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