Präsens – Present Tense in German Grammar

Introduction

The present tense also called the simple present (Präsens) is used to talk about the present and future in German. We can translate it into one of three English tenses: the simple present, present progressive and future with will or going to. It is the most commonly used tense in the German language.

Learn the grammar rules, how to conjugate verbs and when to use the present tense with Lingolia’s simply worded explanations and examples in real German. In the exercises, you can practise what you have learnt.

Example

Zeichnung

Das ist Felix. Jeden Dienstag geht er zum Fußballtraining. Er spielt schon seit fünf Jahren Fußball.

Nächsten Sonntag um 14 Uhr hat seine Mannschaft ein wichtiges Spiel.

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Usage

We use the German present tense to express:

  • a fact or condition in the present
    Example:
    Das ist Felix.This is Felix.
  • an action that takes place in the present once, repeatedly, or never
    Example:
    Jeden Dienstag geht er zum Fußballtraining.Every Tuesday he goes to football practice.
  • a action that expresses how long something has been going on
    Example:
    Er spielt schon seit fünf Jahren Fußball.He has been playing football for five years.
  • a future action that is already planned or agreed upon
    Example:
    Nächsten Sonntag hat seine Mannschaft ein wichtiges Spiel.Next Sunday, his team has an important game.

Conjugation of German Verbs in Present Tense

To conjugate verbs in the German present tense, we remove the infinitive ending -en and add the following endings:

PersonEndingExample
1st person singular (ich) -e ich lerneI learn
2nd person singular (du) -st du lernstyou learn
3rd person singular (er/sie/es/man) -t er lernthe learns
1st person plural (wir) -en wir lernenwe learn
2nd person plural (ihr) -t ihr lerntyou learn
3rd person plural/polite form (sie/Sie) -en sie lernenthey learn

The verbs sein and haben are irregular:

Personseinhaben
1st person singular (ich) ich binI am ich habeI have
2nd person singular (du) du bistyou are du hastyou have
3rd person singular (er/sie/es/man) er isthe is er hathe has
1st person plural (wir) wir sindwe are wir habenwe have
2nd person plural (ihr) ihr seidyou are ihr habtyou have
3rd person plural/polite form (sie/Sie) sie sindthey are sie habenthey have

Exceptions

  • If the word stem ends in d/t, we add an e before the endings -st and -t.
    Example:
    wartento wait – du wartest, er wartet, ihr wartet
    This doesn’t happen when the vowel changes. (In this case the t in the 3rd person singular ending also disappears)
    Example:
    ladento load – du lädst, er lädt, ihr ladet (vowel change a to ä)
    haltento hold/stop – du hältst, er hält, ihr haltet
  • If the word stem ends in s/ß/x/z, we remove the s in the 2nd person singular ending.
    Example:
    tanzento dance – du tanzt (not: tanzst)
  • If the word stem ends in ie, we remove the e in the ending.
    Example:
    kniento kneel – ich knie, wir knien, sie knien (not: kniee, knieen)
  • The word stem changes in some strong verbs.
    Example:
    lesento read – ich lese, du liest, er liest, wir lesen, ihr lest, sie lesen
  • If the infinitive ends in -eln/-ern, we remove the e in the ending.
    Example:
    wandernto hike – ich wandere, wir wandern, sie wandern
    In the case of -eln, we can also leave off the e from the word stem in the 1st person singular.
    Example:
    lächelnto smile – ich läch(e)le, wir lächeln, sie lächeln