Sein and Haben – Important Verbs in German Grammar

Introduction

Sein and haben are used to form compound tenses such as present perfect and past perfect. They are irregular verbs so their conjugations have to be memorized.

Learn how to conjugate the verbs sein and haben in German with our simple verb conjugation tables and master their usage in compound tenses. Put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

sein

haben

Conjugation

presentsimple pastpast participle
ich binI am ich warI was gewesenbeen

du bistyou are du warstyou were
er/sie/es isthe/she/it is er/sie/es warhe/she/it was
wir sindwe are wir warenwe were
ihr seidyou (pl. inf.) are ihr wartyou (pl. inf.) were
sie sindthey/you (f.) are sie warenthey/you (f.) were
presentsimple pastpast participle
ich habeI have ich hatteI had gehabthad
du hastyou have du hattestyou had
er/sie/es hathe/she/it has er/sie/es hattehe/she/it had
wir habenwe have wir hattenwe had
ihr habtyou (pl. inf.) have ihr hattetyou (pl. inf.) had
sie habenthey/you (f.) have sie hattenthey/you (f.) had

Usage as a Full Verb

  • together with adjectives
    Example:
    Du bist nett.You are nice.
  • to identify things/beings (description, nationality, occupation, …)
    Example:
    Das ist Laura. Sie ist Deutsche. Laura ist Lehrerin.This is Laura. She is German. She is a teacher.
  • to express age, date, and time
    Example:
    Er ist 23 Jahre alt.He is 23 years old.
    Heute ist der 20. August. Es ist 9 Uhr.Today is August 20th. It is 9 o’clock.
  • to show possession
    Example:
    Er hat ein Auto.He has a car.
  • to describe a condition that refers to nouns
    Example:
    Ich habe Zeit. Du hast keine Geschwister. Sie hat blaue Augen.I have time. You have no siblings. She has blue eyes.
  • in certain idiomatic expressions
    Example:
    Ich habe es eilig.I’m in a hurry.

Sein and Haben in Compound Tenses

  • with intransitive verbs (verbs without an accusative object) that express a change of location: gehento go/walk, laufento run/walk, fahrento go/drive, fallento fall, fliegento fly, kommento come, reisento travel, stürzento tumble
    Example:
    Er ist gelaufen.He ran.
  • with intransitive verbs that express a change in condition: aufwachento wake up, einschlafento fall asleep, gefrierento freeze, tauento thaw, sterbento die, zerfallento disintegrate
    Example:
    Ich bin eingeschlafen.I fell asleep.
  • other verbs: bleibento stay/remain, seinto be, werdento become, gelingento succeeed in doing something, misslingento fail to do something, geschehento happen
    Example:
    Wir sind zu Hause geblieben.We stayed home.
  • with all transitive verbs (verbs that take an accusative object)
    Example:
    Er hat den Tisch gedeckt.He set the table.
  • with all intransitive verbs that do not express a change in location or condition
    Example:
    Max hat getanzt.Max danced.
  • with reflexive verbs
    Example:
    Ich habe mich verlaufen.I’ve got myself lost.
  • other verbs: anfangen, beginnen, zunehmen, abnehmen, aufhören
    Example:
    Ich habe zugenommen.I’ve put on weight.