German Simple Past - Irregular & Mixed Verbs
Irregular verbs- or strong verbs - receive a personal ending, but their stem changes as well. Unfortunately, there are no rules to which ones change or how, so you need to memorize their simple past forms. There are 9 mixed verbs follow a very particular pattern of conjugation.
For mixed verbs, there are stem vowel changes, even though they appear at first glance to be regular (e.g. machen → machte, bringen → brachte).
As can be seen, these mixed verbs only differ from regular verbs in that their stems change from present to past tense. The irregular verbs, on the other hand, are very distinct from these forms.
Irregular verbs do not add a ‘t’ but do add most of the conjugated endings to their irregular stems. For example, ‘finden’ becomes ‘fand’ (3rd person singular form), and, like the 1st person singular, does not add an ending. Take a look at the chart of frequently used irregular verbs in the simple past below.
Although there are no set rules for predicting the past tense forms of irregular verbs, a number of verbs in English exhibit similar patterns of vowel changes as those in German (e.g. sing – sang – sung / singen – sang – gesungen). In German there are seven approximate categories of vowel change patterns, from infinitive to simple past to past participle (e.g. ride-rode-ridden):
- ei – ie – ie / ei – i – i = bleiben – blieb – geblieben / reiten – ritt – geritten
- ie – o – o / e – o – o = verlieren – verlor – verloren / heben – hob – gehoben
- i – a – u / i – a – o = singen – sang – gesungen / beginnen – begann – begonnen
- e – a – o = nehmen – nahm – genommen
- e – a – e / i – a – e / ie – a – e = essen – ass – gegessen / bitten – bat – gebeten / liegen – lag – gelegen
- a – u – a = einladen – lud ein – eingeladen
- a – ie – a / au – ie – au / ei – ie – ei / u – ie – u / o – ie – o / a – i – a = gefallen – gefiel – gefallen / laufen – lief – gelaufen / heißen – hieß – geheißen / rufen – rief – gerufen / stoßen – stieß – gestoßen / fangen – fing – gefangen
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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
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