The powerful verb “to be” – sein

Think how powerful this verb is in English and you’ll understand at once why you must write it on your soul in any foreign language you want to learn. With the verb “to be” you can say, “You are wrong,” “I am sad,” “She is funny,”  “He is an idiot,” “Are you sick?” and so on. By using this single verb as well as a few nouns, pronouns and adjectives, you can make thousands of sentences.

Knowing the verb “to be” in German will help you to start making your own sentences. All of a sudden, you will be able to start speaking. For instance:

  • I am tired. Ich bin müde.
  • Are you sad? Bist du traurig?
  • She is pretty. Sie ist hübsch.
  • He is an idiot. Er ist ein Idiot.
  • Are you sick? Bist du krank?

Notice that the verb changes depending on the person “doing” the verb. The fancy word for this is conjugation. The verb “to be” in English, German and a host of other languages is unpredictable. You have to learn it by heart. There are no shortcuts for this verb. But who cares? Once you’ve learned it, you’ll have the most important verb in the language in your verbal toolbox. You’ll never look back.

sein – Present Tense Form
Singular Plural
First Person ich bin – I am wir sind – we are
Second Person du bist – you are (familiar) ihr seid – you are – (familiar plural)
Third Person er/sie/es ist – he/she/it is sie sind – they are
 Formal Address Sie sind – you are – formal Sie sind – you are – formal plural

Sample sentences with the verb “to be” – sein 

  • In diesem Klassenzimmer ist es sehr laut. It’s very loud in this classroom.
  • Das Mädchen ist hübsch. The girl is pretty.
  • Die Jungen sind müde. The boys are tired.
  • Die Schüler sind sehr fleißig. The students are very hard-working.
  • Das ist sehr interessant.That is very interesting.

    Das ist das Brandenburger Tor in Berlin.
    This is the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
  • Das ist richtig. That is right.
  • Das ist leider falsch. Unfortunately that is wrong.
  • Sie ist dreizehn Jahre alt. She is 13 years old.
  • Ist jemand zu Hause? Is anyone at home?
  • Ich bin (mir) nicht sicher. I’m not sure.
  • Er ist ein Freund von mir. He is a friend of mine.
  • Es ist niemand da. There is no one there.
  • Das ist mir egal. That doesn’t matter to me.
  • Gute Kontakte sind wichtig. Good contacts are important.
  • Ich bin aus Australien. I am from Australia, I come from Australia.
  • Ich bin David. I am David.
  • Was ist los? What’s the matter?
  • Was ist los mit ihr? What’s the matter with her?
  • Du bist es! You’re it! (when playing chasey, which by the way is called Fangen in German)
  • Du bist dran. It’s your turn.
A learning hint: Don’t forget, it’s worthwhile to learn phrases, not just words. When you learn anything, it helps to CHUNK it, that is, form it into connected parts that hang together and make sense. So don’t just learn a word or a verb, learn some sentences that can be made with it. That way, you’ll get more of a feel for the language too.

This quizlet and many others for German can be downloaded to an Apple device such as an iTouch, iPhone or iPad using the app available at this link. Unfortunately no one has made an Android app yet, but I’m sure someone will do so very soon.

Try the little quiz below to check your memory of the conjugation of sein. To see the quiz on a whole new page, which will make it easier to read, click here.

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2 Replies to “The powerful verb “to be” – sein”

  1. Hi Ms Green,
    I am Ying Ying from S1Y and I have an amazing story to tell you.

    Today after school I was walking home and then I met a lady who once helped me with some english that I didn’t understand. Well I haven’t seen her for ages and we were talking about high school. I told her about german and she seemed quite happy. So she started to talk to me in german. She talked really fluently and I understood what she meant but I don’t know how to reply. I even talked in german ,like my age, when my birthday was,how I feel etc. When she arrived at her doorstep we said goodbye in german.

    It was a great experience talking to someone from Deutschland.
    Your student,
    Ying Ying

    1. Dear Ying Ying,
      Your comment made me feel very happy! I was especially proud of you for daring to speak German so soon. Thanks for your lovely message.
      Kind regards,
      Ms Green

      Liebe Ying Ying,
      dein Kommentar hat mich glücklich gemacht! Ich bin besonders stolz auf dich, weil du dich schon traust Deutsch zu sprechen. Danke für deine schöne Nachricht.
      Viele Grüße,
      Ms Green

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