German Regular Verbs

Overview

Conjugating a verb means changing the infinitive form of it to indicate person, number, tense, voice and mood in a sentence. Subject and verb have to agree in order for a sentence to be grammatically correct and be understood.

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German Regular verbs are verbs that exhibit no changes in their stem in the present or past tenses. Most regular verbs are action words. For example, in both English and German, “to play” (“spielen”) is regular because the form of the stem remains the same.

  • In a normal statement or sentence the verb is always in the second position.
  • The subject can be moved from the first to third position, with an adverb or other element being placed first (inverted word order), but the verb stays in second position.
  • most verbs (but not all verbs) end in “-en” in the infinitive. This is the equivalent of the English “to”. Examples: spielen – to play, singen – to sing
  • To conjugate, we remove the infinitive ending “-en”, and add the following endings based on the subject pronoun: 
regular verb conjugation jpg

There are some differences in how verbs are conjugated based on the spelling of their stems:

  • All regular verbs that end in a “z,” “s,” “ss,” or “ß” add only “t” to the “du” conjugation (“tanzen” becomes “du tanzt” (drop the “s”) and not “du tanzst”)
  • Verbs whose stems end in ‘d’ or ‘t’ require an ‘e’ inserted before “t” or “st” endings (e.g. du findest, er arbeitet, ihr bietet)
  • Verbs that end in “eln” or “ern” (e.g. segeln, wandern), can delete the “e” before the “l” or “r,” but it is acceptable either way (i.e. ich segele or ich segle)
  • verbs ending in “-ieren” (e.g. diskutieren, telefonieren) are regular verbs, and have no stem vowel changes or other irregularities in the present tense.

Examples: 
machen – to make/do

ich mach + “-e” = ich mache    I do/make
du mach + “-st” = du machst   you do/make
er/sie/es mach + “-t” = er/sie/es macht   he/she/it does/makes

wir mach + “-en” = wir machen   we do/make
ihr mach + “-t” = ihr macht   you do/make
sie/Sie mach + ‘-en” = sie/Sie machen    they/you-formal do/make

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.