German Verb Conjugation

This lesson will focus on basic German verb conjugation. The conjugations are set out in easy-to-understand tables with English translations throughout.

You will learn the conjugation of the most important types of German verbs: auxiliary verbs (including modal verbs), regular verbs, irregular verbs, separable verbs and reflexive verbs.



The verbs will be presented in three tenses (the present tense, perfect tense and imperfect tense) in order to concentrate on only that which is necessary at a beginner to intermediate level.

By the way, have you read my German verbs lesson? If you haven't, I recommend you read it now as it provides important, basic information on German verbs and is the prelude to this lesson. It also provides an overview of the German tenses if you are not already familiar with these.


Just before we get started on this German verb conjugation lesson, let's clarify:


What is the conjugation of a verb?

The conjugation of a verb is simply the creation of a number of different forms of a particular verb, which alter it from its original form in the 'infinitive.' Verbs can be conjugated according to tense, gender, number, etc.

We will start this German verb conjugation lesson by taking a look at the conjugation of German auxiliary verbs.



German Verb Conjugation: Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs are 'helping' verbs. They are used with main verbs to construct the verb phrase. An example in English is: I have asked - Ich habe gefragt.

The auxiliary verb is 'have' as it is helping the main verb 'ask' in this particular verb phrase.

In addition to modal verbs, which will be discussed in the next section, German has a further three 'helping' verbs: sein (to be), werden (to become) and haben (to have).

Let's take a look at the conjugation of these three auxiliary verbs before we look at the modal verbs:


haben - to have

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich habe
(I have / I am having)
Ich habe gehabt
(I have had / I had)
Ich hatte
(I had)
Du hast
(You have / You are having)
Du hast gehabt
(You have had / You had)
Du hattest
(You had)
Er/Sie/Es hat
(He/She/It has / is having)
Er/Sie/Es hat gehabt
(He/She/It has had / had)
Er/Sie/Es hatte
(He/She/It had)
Wir haben
(We have / We are having)
Wir haben gehabt
(We have had / We had)
Wir hatten
(We had)
Ihr habt
(You have / You are having)
Ihr habt gehabt
(You have had / You had)
Ihr hattet
(You had)
Sie haben
(You have / You are having)
Sie haben gehabt
(You have had / You had)
Sie hatten
(You had)
Sie haben
(They have / They are having)
Sie haben gehabt
(They have had / They had)
Sie hatten
(They had)


sein - to be

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich bin
(I am / I am being)
Ich bin gewesen
(I have been / I was)
Ich war
(I was)
Du bist
(You are / You are being)
Du bist gewesen
(You have been / You were)
Du warst
(You were)
Er/Sie/Es ist
(He/She/It is / is being)
Er/Sie/Es ist gewesen
(He/She/It has been / was)
Er/Sie/Es war
(He/She/It was)
Wir sind
(We are / We are being)
Wir sind gewesen
(We have been/ We were)
Wir waren
(We were)
Ihr seid
(You are / You are being)
Ihr seid gewesen
(You have been / You were)
Ihr wart
(You were)
Sie sind
(You are / You are being)
Sie sind gewesen
(You have been / You were
Sie waren
(You were)
Sie sind
(They are / They are being)
Sie sind gewesen
(They have been / They were)
Sie waren
(They were)


werden - to become

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich werde
(I become / I am becoming)
Ich bin worden/geworden
(I have become / I became)
Ich wurde
(I became)
Du wirst
(You become / You are becoming)
Du bist worden/geworden
(You have becoming / You became)
Du wurdest
(You became)
Er/Sie/Es wird
(He/She/It becomes / is becoming)
Er/Sie/Es ist worden/geworden
(He/She/It has become / became)
Er/Sie/Es wurde
(He/She/It became)
Wir werden
(We become / We are becoming)
Wir sind worden/geworden
(We have become/ We became)
Wir wurden
(We became)
Ihr werdet
(You become / You are becoming)
Ihr seid worden/geworden
(You have become / You became)
Ihr wurdet
(You became)
Sie werden
(You become / You are becoming)
Sie sind worden/geworden
(You have become / You became
Sie wurden
(You became)
Sie werden
(They become / They are becoming)
Sie sind worden/geworden
(They have become / They became)
Sie wurden
(They became)


German Verb Conjugation: Modal Verbs

There are six modal verbs in German. Similar to the aforementioned auxiliary verbs, the modal verbs also provide us with more information on the main verb which follows it. For example, does it 'have to' be done, 'should' it be done or is it 'able to' be done?

To form a sentence, modal verbs require an additional main verb. This main verb is used in the infinitive without 'zu' (to).

(Please note: If a modal verb is being used in the perfect tense together with another verb, the sentence should be constructed with two infinitives, officially known as a 'double infinitive.' For example: 'Du hastschwimmen dürfen' - 'You were allowed to swim.')

Let's look at the conjugation of the modal verbs in the three tenses:

1. dürfen - to be allowed / may

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich darf
(I am allowed)
Ich habe dürfen/gedurft
(I was allowed)
Ich durfte
(I was allowed)
Du darfst
(You are allowed)
Du hast dürfen/gedurft
(You were allowed)
Du durftest
(You were allowed)
Er/Sie/Es darf
(He/She/It is allowed)
Er/Sie/Es hat dürfen/gedurft
(He/She/It was allowed)
Er/Sie/Es durfte
(He/She/It was allowed)
Wir dürfen
(We are allowed)
Wir haben dürfen/gedurft
(We were allowed)
Wir durften
(We were allowed)
Ihr dürft
(You are allowed)
Ihr habt dürfen/gedurft
(You were allowed)
Ihr durftet
(You were allowed)
Sie dürfen
(You are allowed)
Sie haben dürfen/gedurft
(You were allowed)
Sie durften
(You were allowed)
Sie dürfen
(They are allowed)
Sie haben dürfen/gedurft
(They were allowed)
Sie durften
(They were allowed)


2. können - to be able / can

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich kann
(I can / I am able)
Ich habe können/gekonnt
(I could / I was able)
Ich konnte
(I could / I was able)
Du kannst
(You can / You are able)
Du hast können/gekonnt
(You could / You were able)
Du konntest
(You could / You were able)
Er/Sie/Es kann
(He/She/It can / was able)
Er/Sie/Es hat können/gekonnt
(He/She/It could / was able)
Er/Sie/Es konnte
(He/She/It could / was able )
Wir können
(We can / We are able)
Wir haben können/gekonnt
(We could / We were able)
Wir konnten
(We could / We were able)
Ihr könnt
(You can / You are able)
Ihr habt können/gekonnt
(You could / You are able)
Ihr konntet
(You could / You were able)
Sie können
(You can / You are able)
Sie haben können/gekonnt
(You could / You were able)
Sie konnten
(You could / You were able)
Sie können
(They can / They are able)
Sie haben können/gekonnt
(They could / They were able)
Sie konnten
(They could / They were able)


3. mögen - to like / want / may 

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich mag
(I like)
Ich habe mögen/gemocht
(I liked)
Ich mochte
(I liked)
Du magst
(You like)
Du hast mögen/gemocht
(You liked)
Du mochtest
(You liked)
Er/Sie/Es mag
(He/She/It likes)
Er/Sie/Es hat mögen/gemocht
(He/She/It liked)
Er/Sie/Es mochte
(He/She/It liked)
Wir mögen
(We like)
Wir haben mögen/gemocht
(We liked)
Wir mochten
(We liked)
Ihr mögt
(You like)
Ihr habt mögen/gemocht
(You liked)
Ihr mochtet
(You liked)
Sie mögen
(You like)
Sie haben mögen/gemocht
(You liked)
Sie mochten
(You liked)
Sie mögen
(They like)
Sie haben mögen/gemocht
(They liked)
Sie mochten
(They liked)


4. müssen - have to / must

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich muss
(I have to)
Ich habe müssen/gemusst
(I have had to / I had to)
Ich musste
(I had to)
Du musst
(You have to)
Du hast müssen/gemusst
(You have had to / You had to)
Du musstest
(You had to)
Er/Sie/Es muss
(He/She/It has to)
Er/Sie/Es hat müssen/gemusst
(He/She/It has had to / had to)
Er/Sie/Es musste
(He/She/It had to)
Wir müssen
(We have to)
Wir haben müssen/gemusst
(We have had to / We had to)
Wir mussten
(We had to)
Ihr müsst
(You have to)
Ihr habt müssen/gemusst
(You have had to / You had to)
Ihr musstet
(You had to)
Sie müssen
(You have to)
Sie haben müssen/gemusst
(You have had to / You had to)
Sie mussten
(You had to)
Sie müssen
(They have to)
Sie haben müssen/gemusst
(They have had to / They had to)
Sie mussten
(They had to)


5. sollen - should / supposed to

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich soll
(I should)
Ich habe sollen
(I was supposed to)
Ich sollte
(I was supposed to)
Du sollst
(You should)
Du hast sollen
(You were supposed to)
Du solltest
(You were supposed to)
Er/Sie/Es soll
(He/She/It should)
Er/Sie/Es hat sollen
(He/She/It was supposed to)
Er/Sie/Es sollte
(He/She/It was supposed to)
Wir sollen
(We should)
Wir haben sollen
(We were supposed to)
Wir sollten
(We were supposed to)
Ihr sollt
(You should)
Ihr habt sollen
(You were supposed to)
Ihr solltet
(You were supposed to)
Sie sollen
(You should)
Sie haben sollen
(You were supposed to)
Sie sollten
(You were supposed to)
Sie sollen
(They should)
Sie haben sollen
(They were supposed to)
Sie sollten
(They were supposed to)


6. wollen - want to

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich will
(I want to)
Ich habe wollen/gewollt
(I wanted to)
Ich wollte
(I wanted to)
Du willst
(You want to)
Du hast wollen/gewollt
(You wanted to)
Du wolltest
(You wanted to)
Er/Sie/Es will
(He/She/It wants to)
Er/Sie/Es hat wollen/gewollt
(He/She/It wanted to)
Er/Sie/Es wollte
(He/She/It wanted to)
Wir wollen
(We want to)
Wir haben wollen/gewollt
(We wanted to)
Wir wollten
(We wanted to)
Ihr wollt
(You want to)
Ihr habt wollen/gewollt
(You wanted to)
Ihr wolltet
(You wanted to)
Sie wollen
(You want to)
Sie haben wollen/gewollt
(You wanted to)
Sie wollten
(You wanted to)
Sie wollen
(They want to)
Sie haben wollen/gewollt
(They wanted to)
Sie wollten
(They wanted to)


German Verb Conjugation: Regular Verbs

As you will know from my German verbs lesson, regular German verbs are the most common type of verb in German. They are 'weak' verbs which do not change their stem and are formed regularly.

Let's take look at the conjugation of 'spielen' (to play) and 'sagen' (to say) in the present, perfect and imperfect tense.

(Remember: all regular verbs follow the same grammatical pattern and thus will have the same endings.)


spielen - to play

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich spiele
(I play / I am playing)
Ich habe gespielt
(I have played / I played)
Ich spielte
(I played)
Du spielst
(You play / You are playing)
Du hast gespielt
(You have played / You played)
Du spieltest
(You played)
Er/Sie/Es spielt
(He/She/It plays / is playing)
Er/Sie/Es hat gespielt
(He/She/It has played / played)
Er/Sie/Es spielte
(He/She/It played)
Wir spielen
(We play / We are playing)
Wir haben gespielt
(We have played / We played)
Wir spielten
(We played)
Ihr spielt
(You play / You are playing)
Ihr habt gespielt
(You have played / You played)
Ihr spieltet
(You played)
Sie spielen
(You play / You are playing)
Sie haben gespielt
(You have played / You played)
Sie spielten
(You played)
Sie spielen
(They play / They are playing)
Sie haben gespielt
(They have played / They played)
Sie spielten
(They played)


sagen - to say

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich sage
(I say / I am saying)
Ich habe gesagt
(I have said / I said)
Ich sagte
(I said)
Du sagst
(You say / You are saying)
Du hast gesagt
(You have said / You said)
Du sagtest
(You said)
Er/Sie/Es sagt
(He/She/It says / is saying)
Er/Sie/Es hat gesagt
(He/She/It has said / said)
Er/Sie/Es sagte
(He/She/It said)
Wir sagen
(We say / We are saying)
Wir haben gesagt
(We have said / We said)
Wir sagten
(We said)
Ihr sagt
(You say / You are saying)
Ihr habt gesagt
(You have said / You said)
Ihr sagtet
(You said)
Sie sagen
(You say / You are saying)
Sie haben gesagt
(You have said / You said)
Sie sagten
(You said)
Sie sagen
(They say / They are saying)
Sie haben gesagt
(They have said / They said)
Sie sagten
(They said)


German Verb Conjugation: Irregular Verbs

Irregular German verbs - also known as 'strong' verbs - are conjugated irregularly and thus their conjugations do not follow the same pattern. Unfortunately, the only way to be sure of their correct forms is to memorize them.

Let's take a look at the conjugation of several irregular German verbs:


beginnen - to begin

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich beginne
(I begin / I am beginning)
Ich habe begonnen
(I have begun / I began)
Ich begann
(I began)
Du beginnst
(You begin / You are beginning)
Du hast begonnen
(You have begun / You began)
Du begannst
(You began)
Er/Sie/Es beginnt
(He/She/It begins / is beginning)
Er/Sie/Es hat begonnen
(He/She/It has begun / began)
Er/Sie/Es begann
(He/She/It began)
Wir beginnen
(We begin / We are beginning)
Wir haben begonnen
(We have begun / We began)
Wir begannen
(We began)
Ihr beginnt
(You begin / You are beginning)
Ihr habt begonnen
(You have begun / You began)
Ihr begannt
(You began)
Sie beginnen
(You begin / You are beginning)
Sie haben begonnen
(You have begun / You began
Sie begannen
(You began)
Sie beginnen
(They begin / They are beginning)
Sie haben begonnen
(They have begun / They began)
Sie begannen
(They began)


bleiben - to stay

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich bleibe
(I stay / I am staying)
Ich bin geblieben
(I have stayed / I stayed)
Ich blieb
(I stayed)
Du bleibst
(You stay / You are staying)
Du bist geblieben
(You have stayed / You stayed)
Du bliebst
(You stayed)
Er/Sie/Es bleibt
(He/She/It stays / is staying)
Er/Sie/Es ist geblieben
(He/She/It has stayed / stayed)
Er/Sie/Es blieb
(He/She/It stayed)
Wir bleiben
(We stay / We are staying)
Wir sind geblieben
(We have stayed / We stayed)
Wir blieben
(We stayed)
Ihr bleibt
(You stay / You are staying)
Ihr seid geblieben
(You have stayed / You stayed)
Ihr bliebt
(You stayed)
Sie bleiben
(You stay / You are staying)
Sie sind geblieben
(You have stayed / You stayed
Sie blieben
(You stayed)
Sie bleiben
(They stay / They are staying)
Sie sind geblieben
(They have stayed / They stayed)
Sie blieben
(They stayed)


bringen - to bring

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich bringe
(I bring / I am bringing)
Ich habe gebracht
(I have brought / I brought)
Ich brachte
(I brought)
Du bringst
(You bring / You are bringing)
Du hast gebracht
(You have brought / You brought)
Du brachtest
(You brought)
Er/Sie/Es bringt
(He/She/It brings / is bringing)
Er/Sie/Es hat gebracht
(He/She/It has brought / brought)
Er/Sie/Es brachte
(He/She/It brought)
Wir bringen
(We bring / We are bringing)
Wir haben gebracht
(We have brought / We brought)
Wir brachten
(We brought)
Ihr bringt
(You bring / You are bringing)
Ihr habt gebracht
(You have brought / You brought)
Ihr brachtet
(You brought)
Sie bringen
(You bring / You are bringing)
Sie haben gebracht
(You have brought / You brought
Sie brachten
(You brought)
Sie bringen
(They bring / They are bringing)
Sie haben gebracht
(They have brought / They brought)
Sie brachten
(They brought)


geben - to give

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich gebe
(I give / I am giving)
Ich habe gegeben
(I have give / I gave)
Ich gab
(I gave)
Du gibst
(You give / You are giving)
Du hast gegeben
(You have given / You gave)
Du gabst
(You gave)
Er/Sie/Es gibt
(He/She/It gives / is giving)
Er/Sie/Es hat gegeben
(He/She/It has given / gave)
Er/Sie/Es gab
(He/She/It gave)
Wir geben
(We give / We are giving)
Wir haben gegeben
(We have given / We gave)
Wir gaben
(We gave)
Ihr gebt
(You give / You are giving)
Ihr habt gegeben
(You have given / You gave)
Ihr gabt
(You gave)
Sie geben
(You give / You are giving)
Sie haben gegeben
(You have given / You gave)
Sie gaben
(You gave)
Sie geben
(They give / They are giving)
Sie haben gegeben
(They have given / They gave)
Sie gaben
(They gave)


gehen - to go

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich gehe
(I go / I am going)
Ich bin gegangen
(I have gone / I went)
Ich ging
(I went)
Du gehst
(You go / You are gone)
Du bist gegangen
(You have gone / You went)
Du gingst
(You went)
Er/Sie/Es geht
(He/She/It goes / is going)
Er/Sie/Es ist gegangen
(He/She/It has gone / went)
Er/Sie/Es ging
(He/She/It went)
Wir gehen
(We go / We are going)
Wir sind gegangen
(We have gone / We went)
Wir gingen
(We went)
Ihr geht
(You go / You are going)
Ihr seid gegangen
(You have gone / You went)
Ihr gingt
(You went)
Sie gehen
(You go / You are going)
Sie sind gegangen
(You have gone / You went)
Sie gingen
(You went)
Sie gehen
(They go / They are going)
Sie sind gegangen
(They have gone / They went)
Sie gingen
(They went)


helfen - to help

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich helfe
(I help / I am helping)
Ich habe geholfen
(I have helped / I helped)
Ich half
(I helped)
Du hilfst
(You help / You are helping)
Du hast geholfen
(You have helped / You helped)
Du halfst
(You helped)
Er/Sie/Es hilft
(He/She/It helps / is helping)
Er/Sie/Es hat geholfen
(He/She/It has helped / helped)
Er/Sie/Es half
(He/She/It helped)
Wir helfen
(We help / We are helping)
Wir haben geholfen
(We have helped / We helped)
Wir halfen
(We helped)
Ihr helft
(You help / You are helping)
Ihr habt geholfen
(You have helped / You helped)
Ihr halft
(You helped)
Sie helfen
(You help / You are helping)
Sie haben geholfen
(You have helped / You helped)
Sie halfen
(You helped)
Sie helfen
(They help / They are helping)
Sie haben geholfen
(They have helped / They helped)
Sie halfen
(They helped)


kommen - to come

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich komme
(I come / I am coming)
Ich bin gekommen
(I have come / I came)
Ich kam
(I came)
Du kommst
(You come / You are coming)
Du bist gekommen
(You have come / You came)
Du kamst
(You came)
Er/Sie/Es kommt
(He/She/It comes / is coming)
Er/Sie/Es ist gekommen
(He/She/It has come / came)
Er/Sie/Es kam
(He/She/It came)
Wir kommen
(We come / We are coming)
Wir sind gekommen
(We have come/ We came)
Wir kamen
(We came)
Ihr kommt
(You come / You are coming)
Ihr seid gekommen
(You have come / You came)
Ihr kamt
(You came)
Sie kommen
(You come / You are coming)
Sie sind gekommen
(You have come / You came)
Sie kamen
(You came)
Sie kommen
(They come / They are coming)
Sie sind gekommen
(They have come / They came)
Sie kamen
(They came)


sehen - to see

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich sehe
(I see / I am seeing)
Ich habe gesehen
(I have seen / I saw)
Ich sah
(I saw)
Du siehst
(You see / You are seeing)
Du hast gesehen
(You have seen / You saw)
Du sahst
(You saw)
Er/Sie/Es sieht
(He/She/It sees / is seeing)
Er/Sie/Es hat gesehen
(He/She/It has seen / sees)
Er/Sie/Es sah
(He/She/It saw)
Wir sehen
(We see / We are seeing)
Wir haben gesehen
(We have seen / We saw)
Wir sahen
(We saw)
Ihr seht
(You see / You are seeing)
Ihr habt gesehen
(You have seen / You saw)
Ihr saht
(You saw)
Sie sehen
(You see / You are seeing)
Sie haben gesehen
(You have seen / You saw)
Sie sahen
(You saw)
Sie sehen
(They see / They are seeing)
Sie haben gesehen
(They have seen / They saw)
Sie sahen
(They saw)


German Verb Conjugation: Separable Verbs

Separable verbs are just that: they are separable. They can be split into two parts. Separable verbs have a 'prefix' (a word placed before another - more often than not a preposition in this case) and a main verb.

For example: the preposition 'an' (to/in/at) is a prefix to the word 'kommen' (to come). When combined they form the word 'ankommen' (to arrive).

Let's look at how these separable verbs are formed in the various tenses:

ankommen - to arrive

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich komme an
(I arrive / I am arriving)
Ich bin angekommen
(I have arrived / I arrived)
Ich kam an
(I arrived)
Du kommst an
(You arrive / You are arriving)
Du bist angekommen
(You have arrived / You arrived)
Du kamst an
(You arrived)
Er/Sie/Es kommt an
(He/She/It arrives / is arriving)
Er/Sie/Es ist angekommen
(He/She/It has arrived / arrived)
Er/Sie/Es kam an
(He/She/It arrived)
Wir kommen an
(We arrive / We are arriving)
Wir sind angekommen
(We have arrived / We arrived)
Wir kamen an
(We arrived)
Ihr kommt an
(You arrive / You are arriving)
Ihr seid angekommen
(You have arrived / You arrived)
Ihr kamt an
(You arrived)
Sie kommen an
(You arrive / You are arriving)
Sie sind angekommen
(You have arrived / You arrived
Sie kommen an
(You arrived)
Sie kamen an
(They arrive / They are arriving)
Sie sind angekommen
(They have arrived / They arrived)
Sie kamen an
(They arrived)


anrufen - to call

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich rufe an
(I call / I am calling)
Ich habe angerufen
(I have called / I called)
Ich rufte an
(I called)
Du rufst an
(You call / You are calling)
Du hast angeruen
(You have called / You called)
Du ruftest an
(You called)
Er/Sie/Es ruf an
(He/She/It calls / is calling)
Er/Sie/Es hat angerufen
(He/She/It has called / called)
Er/Sie/Es rufte an
(He/She/It called)
Wir rufen an
(We call / We are calling)
Wir haben angerufen
(We have called / We called)
Wir ruften an
(We called)
Ihr ruft an
(You call / You are calling)
Ihr habt angerufen
(You have called / You called)
Ihr ruftet an
(You called)
Sie rufen an
(You call / You are calling)
Sie haben angerufen
(You have called / You called)
Sie ruften an
(You called)
Sie rufen an
(They call / They are calling)
Sie haben angerufen
(They have called / They called)
Sie ruften an
(They called)


German Verb Conjugation: Reflexive Verbs

A reflexive verb is when the subject and the object of the sentence are the same thing or person. In other words an action or feeling relates back to the subject of the sentence.

Although we have reflexive verbs in English (e.g. to enjoy oneself / to hurt oneself), they are not used as frequently as they are in German. Furthermore, German reflexive verbs cannot simply be translated as 'oneself' as you will see in the example below.

A German reflexive verb is formed by using a verb and a reflexive pronoun in either the accusative or dative case. There are no particular rules regarding which verbs are reflexive nor which ones take which case. Therefore, the reflexive verb should be learned together with the reflexive pronoun as soon as possible.

Let's look at an example of a German reflexive verb which takes an accusative pronoun:

sich anziehen - to get dressed

Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich ziehe mich an
(I get dressed / I am getting dressed)
Ich habe mich angezogen
(I have got dressed / I got dressed)
Ich zog mich an
(I got dressed)
Du ziehst dich an
(You get dressed / You are getting dressed)
Du hast dich angezogen
(You have got dressed / You got dressed)
Du zogst dich an
(You got dressed)
Er/Sie/Es zieht sich an
(He/She/It gets dressed / is getting dressed)
Er/Sie/Es hat sich angezogen
(He/She/It has got dressed / got dressed)
Er/Sie/Es zog sich an
(He/She/It got dressed)
Wir ziehen uns an
(We get dressed / We are getting dressed)
Wir haben uns angezogen
(We have got dressed / We got dressed)
Wir zogen uns an
(We got dressed)
Ihr zieht euch an
(You get dressed / You are getting dressed)
Ihr habt euch angezogen
(You have got dressed / You got dressed)
Ihr zogt euch an
(You got dressed)
Sie ziehen sich an
(You get dressed / You are getting dressed)
Sie haben sich angezogen
(You have got dressed / You got dressed)
Sie zogen sich an
(You got dressed)
Sie ziehen sich an
(They get dressed / They are getting dressed)
Sie haben sich angezogen
(They have got dressed / They got dressed)
Sie zogen sich an
(They got dressed)

Other examples of reflexive German verbs, which take an accusative pronoun and are, therefore, formed in a similar way, are:

sich ausziehen - to get undressed

sich beeilen - to hurry

sich bemühen - to make an effort

sich erinnern - to remember

sich interessieren - to be interested

sich langweilen - to be bored

sich rasieren - to shave oneself

sich treffen - to meet

sich vorstellen - to introduce oneself

sich waschen - to wash oneself


Here is an example of a reflexive verb using a dative reflexive pronoun:

sich (etwas) ansehen - to watch (something)

(N.B The '...' indicates that an object needs to be inserted here. E.g. 'Ich sehe mir einen Film an' - 'I am watching a film'.)


Present (Präsens) Perfect (Perfekt) Imperfect (Imperfekt)
Ich sehe mir ... an
(I watch / I am watching )
Ich habe mir ... angesehen
(I have watched / I watched)
Ich sah mir ... an
(I watched)
Du siehst dir ... an
(You watch / You are watching)
Du hast dir ... angesehen
(You have watched / You watched)
Du sahst dir ... an
(You watched)
Er/Sie/Es seht sich ... an
(He/She/It watches / is watching)
Er/Sie/Es hat sich ... angesehen
(He/She/It has watched / watched)
Er/Sie/Es sah sich ... an
(He/She/It watched)
Wir sehen uns ... an
(We watch / We are watching)
Wir haben uns ... angesehen
(We have watched / We watched)
Wir sahen uns ... an
(We watched)
Ihr seht euch ... an
(You watch / You are watching)
Ihr habt euch ... angesehen
(You have watched / You watched)
Ihr saht euch ... an
(You watched)
Sie sehen sich ... an
(You watch / You are watching)
Sie haben sich ... angesehen
(You have watched / You watched)
Sie sahen sich ... an
(You watched)
Sie sehen sich ... an
(They watch / They are watching)
Sie haben sich ... angesehen
(They have watched / They watched)
Sie sahen sich ... an
(They watched)

Here are some examples of German reflexive verbs which take a dative pronoun:

sich anzeihen/auszeihen - to put something on (i.e. 'I put a pair of trousers on' - 'Ich ziehe mir die Hose an'. Not to be confused with the accusative reflexive verb 'anziehen/ausziehen which means to 'get dressed.')

sich etwas waschen - to wash something (i.e. 'I wash my hands' - 'Ich wasche mir die Hände'. Not to be confused with the accusative reflexive verb 'sich waschen' - to wash oneself.)

sich vorstellen - to imagine

sich etwas anhören - to listen to something

sich etwas ausleihen - to borrow something


Now you have completed your German verb conjugation lesson, you can now move on to German pronouns.

We have touched on pronouns in this lesson and previous ones, but in the next lesson we will take a closer look at these funny little words and find out why they, too, are an essential part of German grammar.

Next, my German pronouns lesson.



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