Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture.
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Updated on January 31, 2019
The two most important German verbs arehaben(to have) andsein(to be). As in most languages, the verb "to be" is one of the oldest verbs in German, and therefore one of the most irregular. The verb "to have" is only slightly less irregular, but no less vital to surviving speaking German.
The Rules of 'Haben' in German
We'll start withhaben. Look at the following table for the conjugation ofhabenin the present tense, along with sample sentences. Notice the strong resemblance to English for many forms of this verb, with most forms only one letter off from the English ( habe/have, hat/has). In the case of the familiar you (du), the German verb is identical to Old English: "thou hast" is "du hast."
Habenis also used in some German expressions that are translated with "to be" in English. For example:
Ich habe Hunger.(I'm hungry.)
Ich habe einen roten Wagen. (I have a red car.)
you (fam.) have
Du hast mein Buch. (You have my book.)
Er hat ein blaues Auge. (He has a black eye.)
Sie hat blaue Augen. (She has blue eyes.)
Es hat keine Fehler. (It has no flaws.)
Wir haben keine Zeit. (We have no time.)
you (guys) have
Habt ihr euer Geld? (Do y'all have your money?)
Sie haben kein Geld. (They have no money.)
Haben Sie das Geld? (You, sir, have no money.) Note: Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.
To Be or Not to Be(Sein Oder Nicht Sein)
Look at the following table for the conjugation ofsein(to be) in the present tense. Notice how similar the German and English forms are in the third person (ist/is).
Ich bin es. (It's me.)
you (fam.) are
Du bist mein Schatz. (You are my darling.)
Er ist ein netter Kerl. (He is a nice guy.)
Ist sie da? (Is she here?)
Es ist mein Buch. (It is my book.)
Wir sind das Volk. (We are the people/nation.) Note: This was the slogan of 1989 East German protests in Leipzig.
you (guys) are
Seid ihr unsere Freunde? (Are you guys our friends?)
Sie sind unsere Freunde. (They are our friends.)
|Sind Sie Herr Meier? (Are you, sir, Mr. Meier?) Note: Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.|
Flippo, Hyde. "Learn the German Verbs 'Haben' (to Have) and 'Sein' (to Be)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/learning-german-verbs-haben-and-sein-4066934.Flippo, Hyde. (2020, August 27). Learn the German Verbs 'Haben' (to Have) and 'Sein' (to Be). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-german-verbs-haben-and-sein-4066934Flippo, Hyde. "Learn the German Verbs 'Haben' (to Have) and 'Sein' (to Be)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-german-verbs-haben-and-sein-4066934 (accessed March 19, 2023).
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