German - the basic three tenses

Here is a quick recap (hopefully) how to form the three basic tenses in German (present, past & future).

In German there are three main tenses. You need to be able to use all 3 to achieve at least a C grade.

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  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 01-06-10 15:38

Present Tense - talking about what you are doing o

Present - The first tense is the easiest. you form it by taking the infinitve (for example haben - meaning to have)

and taking off the 'en' and adding the following ending:

ich -e

du -st

er/sie/es - t

wir -en

ihr -t

Sie -en

sie - en

So to say I have you would say Ich habe.

As well as using this tense to say "I am playing" or "I play" you also may use it to say: "Normalweise, speile ich fussball" which simply means normally I play football.

N.B. Don't get confused - "i am playing" uses the present tense and you DONT say - ich bin, think of the english.

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Past Tense - Perfect (Perfekt) Used to describe wh

Perfect Tense (past tense)

You use this tense to describe something that has happened. You use the correct part of haben or sein (below)

Ich habe /bin

Du hast/bist

Er/Sie/Es hat/ist

Wir haben/sind

Ihr habt/seid

Sie haben/sind

sie haben/sind

Most verbs take haben however verbs to do with movement take sein.

You then add on the past participle which is formed usually by taking the "en" of the infinitve of a verb adding "t" to the end and "ge" to the beginning. For example:

Spielen (to play) turns into gespielt.

There are however irregular past particples which are as follows:

beginnen begin begonnen beschliessen decide beschlossen bitten ask gebeten brechen break gebrochen empfehlen recommend empfohlen essen eat gegessen finden find gefunden fressen eat (of animals) gefressen frieren freeze gefroren geben give gegeben gewinnen win gewonnen gießen pour, water gegossen halten hold gehalten heißen be called geheißen helfen help geholfen klingen sound geklungen lassen let, allow gelassen leiden suffer gelitten lesen read gelesen liegen recline gelegen lügen lie gelogen nehmen take genommen reissen tear gerissen riechen smell gerochen rufen call gerufen scheinen shine geschienen schlafen sleep geschlafen schließen shut geschlossen schneiden cut geschnitten schreiben write geschrieben schreien cry geschrieen schweigen be silent geschwiegen schwingen swing geschwungen sehen see gesehen senden send gesandt singen sing gesungen sitzen sit gesessen sprechen speak gesprochen stehen stand gestanden tragen wear getragen treffen meet getroffen trinken drink getrunken tun do getan vergessen forget vergessen verlassen leave verlassen verlieren lose verloren verstehen understand verstanden verzeihen forgive verziehen waschen wash gewaschen werfen throw geworfen ziehen pull gezogen

So you would form it using pronoun + part of haben/sien + past participle

for example - Ich habe fussball gespielt means I played football

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Future Tense - what is going to happen

Future Tense

In German the Future Tense is very easy to form, you simply use the verb "werden" which means to become, the parts of the verb are as follows:

Ich werde

Du wirst

Er/Sie/Es wird

Wir werden

Ihr werdet

Sie werden

sie werden

you then simply add on the infinitve of the verb to the end so for example say you wanted to say I will eat you would say:

Ich werde essen.

I will eat pizza:

Ich werde Pizza essen.

It's very simple once you learn the verb "werden"!

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Lizzie Sparks

this was really helpful ty

btw the words dont fit in though i had to highlight down the page copy and paste on word doc to read


the mp3 doesn't work please can you fix it

Prabhi **

That really helped thanks!!


the last line of the future tense didn't print off but i just wrote it in so that was fine. very helpful although a bit more info would be nice and a smaller front! thank you


needs more info and examples but as great

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