The single most important grammatical rule for speaking and writing correct German is the conjugation of regular verbs in the present tense. Almost every sentence that you use will require you to use the endings explained below.
Once you have learned this conjugation pattern, you will be able to apply it to thousands of verbs and be right every time. You will be able to create thousands of new sentences, even when using words you have never before encountered.
2 Step by step…
•First, identify the verb stem.
Take off the -en at the end of the infinitive form of the verb. For example, the verb stem of «wohnen» is «wohn». The verb stem of «machen» is «mach».
•Next, add the appropriate ending to the verb stem, depending on who is completing the action in the sentence. Here are the regular endings:
- ich → e → ich mache = I make, I do
- du → st → du gehst = you go (addressing one familiar)
- er/sie/es/man → t → sie kommt = she comes
- wir → en → wir machen = we make, we do
- ihr → t → ihr geht = you go (addressing two or more familiars)
- sie → en → sie kommen = they come
Note: The only difference between «she comes» and «they come» in German is the verb ending. That means that getting the verb endings correct with this pronoun is especially important to being understood.
3 A picture mnemonic
The set of syllables that will help you remember the pattern is est, ten, ten. This picture could also serve as a mnemonic for you:
4 Table showing a regular conjugation
The table below illustrates these endings with the regular verb «machen».
|machen – to make or do|
|First Person||ich mache – I make, I do||wir machen – we make, we do|
|Second Person||du machst – you make, you do||ihr macht – you make, you do (familiar plural)|
|Third Person||er/sie/es macht – he/she/it makes, does||sie machen – they make, do|
Select the right version of «machen» for each sentence below:
6 A crossword
By completing the crossword below, you will be able to practise the regular endings with a few more essential verbs.
- Click on the light bulb on the top left of the crossword screen for a detailed vocabulary list. Click on the expansion symbol on the top right to work on the full screen.
- To read the clues, click on each word in the crossword frame.
- To check your answers, click on the blue tick sign at the bottom of the crossword.
7 Tiny Cards
9 An introductory video
The video below provides another introduction to the conjugation of regular verbs in the present tense.