German Tips & Tricks

German Present Tense: The Basics

I suppose Germans like to seize the present since they use the present tense so much? Ok, do not take my word for that! Yet it is true that the present tense is used a lot in German, especially in spoken German.

Before I go on if have not yet read my post on basic sentence structure or have no clue on how to formulate basic sentences in German… I shall be right here waiting for you – well, this post will be – while you read that post!

The SV(O) Method

You will still use the general SV(O) formula in the present tense. SV(O) stands for: Subject, Verb, (Object).

The Subject

The subject can be whatever you choose. I will use the following for this example:

der Vogel

the bird

The Verb

Next, pick your verb! Let’s say:

fressen

to eat (animals)

Now we have to conjugate the verb. Take a look at the following table:

PersonSuffix
First-person singular-e
First-person plural-en
Second-person singular (informal)-st
Second-person plural (informal)-t
Second-person singular/plural (formal)-en
Third-person singular-t
Third-person plural-en

A bird is third person singular (see the bold in the above table) and thus we will add -t to the stem of the verb. (The stem of the verb is the infinitive form of the verb with the -en cut off.) In the case of fressen we will then use fress-. Yet here it is important to note that fressen is one of the verbs that undergoes a stem change in the present tense. (Ob du verstehst nur Bahnhoff – if you do not understand what I am saying -, it might be a good idea to check out my post on verbs where I explain all of these. I also explain verb conjugation in more depth over there.) Fress– will become friss-. Now simply stick the -t on there and your verb is conjugated.

With your glue (verb) out you can now also stick the subject and verb to one another.

Der Vogel frisst.

The bird eats.
The bird is eating.

Ok, pause. Now you might be like, why is there two English translations for the same German sentence? The reason is that in German there is only one type of present tense. Thus, there is only one way in which to express both the simple and continuous forms of a sentence.

The Object

Der Vogel frisst is a full sentence, but if you want you can stick an object to the end as well. Let’s use:

der Wurm

the worm

Der Wurm will be in the accusative case (see my post on cases) and therefore it won’t be der Wurm, but rather den Wurm (see my post on articles).

The final result will be:

Der Vogel frisst den Wurm.

The bird eats the worm.
The bird is eating the worm.

That is it for today, my dear readers. Tschüss (goodbye).

xoxo,
Charlé

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3 comments

  1. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

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