The First Three People – Verb Endings

THE FIRST PERSON:
I am, I think, I feel, I hope, I dream… Who am I?

I is number 1.

The first person is I. When you talk about yourself, you are using the first person. Stories can be written in the first person. The first person sounds like this: 

♦I have too much homework.
♦I am tired.
♦I find Maths hard.
♦I am a student.
♦I’d rather stay at home.
♦I work hard.
♦I learn German.
♦I speak English.

Can you match the sample sentences above with those in the speech balloons below?

First sentence endings – simple examples in German

You are number 2.

When you talk to another person, you use the second person (singular). You need the second person endings to communicate directly with another human being. Without the second person, you couldn’t ask questions like „Do you love me?“, „Are you angry?“ or „What do you think?“ Without the second person endings, you couldn’t make sentences like: „You mean a lot to me“, „You are wonderful“ or even „You drive me insane“.

The second person sounds like this:

  • How do you find German?
  • Do you like me?
  • Are you tired?
  • You are my friend.
  • When do you do your homework?
  • Do you learn Chinese?
  • Why are you so sad?

Can you match the sample sentences above with those in the speech balloons below?

Second person endings – simple examples in German

He, she or it is number 3.

When you speak about another person (or about an inanimate object), you are using what is called the third person (singular). When you write a story in the third person in your English class, you are not part of the story yourself. Instead, you are the impersonal narrator, describing what other people (or things) are doing. Any sentence where the subject noun can be replaced by he, she or it is in the third person (singular). These are all third person examples:

  • The boy laughs.
  • The cat is sick.
  • She speaks French.
  • He is hard-working.
  • The book is on the table.
  • It is cold.
  • She makes me laugh.

Can you match the sample sentences above with those in the speech balloons below?

Third person endings – simple examples in German

The little table below provides the verb endings for the first, second and third persons for seven common verbs. While the verb „to be“ (sein) is very irregular, the others show a pattern: the ending for ich is usually -e; the ending for du is generally -st; and the ending for er/sie/es is usually -t.

Use the table to select the right verb ending in the little exercise below the table. 

Infinitive sein haben heißen kommen sprechen wohnen lernen
First Person ich bin ich habe ich heiße ich komme ich spreche ich wohne ich lerne
Second Person du bist du hast du heißt du kommst du sprichst du wohnst du lernst
Third Person er/sie/es ist er/sie/es hat er/sie/es heißt er/sie/es kommt er/sie/es spricht er/sie/es wohnt er/sie/es lernt

Exercise: Try to figure out which „person“ is the subject or doer of the verb in each of the sentences or questions below. Then select the correct verb form from the three options on the right (A, B or C). The table above should help you to figure out the right answer. The correct answers are listed at the bottom.

Sentence/Question Option A Option B Option C
1.  Ich ________ Mia. heiße ist heißt
2. Woher _________ du?  komme kommst kommt
3. Wann ________ du Geburtstag? hat hast habe
4. ______ du müde? Ist Bin Bist
5. Welche Sprachen ________ sie? sprichst spricht spreche
6. Wie alt _____ er? bin bist ist
7. Wie _______ die Frau? heiße bin  heißt
8. Er ________ aus China. kommt komme kommst
9. Das Mädchen ________ Englisch und Chinesisch.  spricht spreche sprichst
10. Er _________ Deutsch. lerne lernt lernst
11. Sie __________ in Melbourne. wohne wohnt wohnst
12. Er ________ ein bisschen Deutsch. spricht spreche sprichst
13. Mein Freund ________ Tom. heiße heißt bist
14. _________ du aus Italien? Kommst Komme Kommt
15. _________ Paul Französisch? Spreche Sprichst Spricht
16. Sie _______ sehr gut Deutsch. sprichst spricht spreche
17. Paul _______ viele Freunde. habe hast hat
18. Mein Vater ______ sehr alt. bin bist ist
19. Ich _________ in Melbourne. wohne wohnst wohnt
20. Meine Mutter _________ Hannah. heiße bin heißt

Answers:

  • 1. A  
  • 2. B  
  • 3. B  
  • 4. C
  • 5. B
  • 6. C
  • 7. C
  • 8. A
  • 9. A
  • 10. B
  • 11. B
  • 12. A
  • 13. B
  • 14. A
  • 15. C
  • 16. B
  • 17. C
  • 18. C
  • 19. A
  • 20. C
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