1. Education

German for Beginners:
Lesson 4.1

Two Important Verbs: haben and sein

To have and have not
Haben und nicht haben

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The two most important German verbs are haben (to have) and sein (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 in German.

We'll start with haben. Look at the following table for the conjugation of haben (to have) in 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" = "du hast."

Haben is also used in some German expressions that are translated with "to be" in English: Ich habe Hunger. = I'm hungry.

haben - to have
Deutsch English Sample Sentences
SINGULAR
ich habe I have Ich habe einen roten Wagen. (...a red car.)
du hast you (fam.)
have
Du hast mein Buch. (...my book.)
er hat he has Er hat ein blaues Auge. (...a black eye.)
sie hat she has Sie hat blaue Augen. (...blue eyes.)
es hat it has Es hat keine Fehler. (...no flaws.)
PLURAL
wir haben we have Wir haben keine Zeit. (...no time.)
ihr habt you (guys)
have
Habt ihr euer Geld? (...your money?)
sie haben they have Sie haben kein Geld. (They have no money.)
Sie haben you have Haben Sie das Geld? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)
See more verbs on our German Strong Verbs and
50 Common German Verbs pages.

To be or not to be...
Sein oder nicht sein
...

Look at the following table for the conjugation of sein (to be) in the present tense. Notice how similar the German and English forms are in the third person (ist/is).

sein - to be
Deutsch English Sample Sentences
SINGULAR
ich bin I am Ich bin's. (It's me.)
du bist you (fam.)
are
Du bist mein Schatz. (...my darling/treasure.)
er ist he is Er ist ein netter Kerl. (...a nice guy.)
sie ist she is Ist sie da? (Is she here?)
es ist it is Es ist mein Buch. (...my book.)
PLURAL
wir sind we are "Wir sind das Volk!" ("We are the people/nation!" - Slogan of 1989 East German protests in Leipzig.)
ihr seid you (guys)
are
Seid ihr unsere Freunde? (..our friends.)
sie sind they are Sie sind unsere Freunde. (..our friends.)
Sie sind you are Sind Sie Herr Meier? (Sie, formal "you," is both singular and plural.)
See more verbs on our German Strong Verbs and
50 Common German Verbs pages.

In later lessons we'll go over the past tense forms of both of these key verbs. In the meantime, if you want to look at these and other irregular verbs in the simple past and present perfect, see our German Strong Verbs pages.

NEXT > Next Lesson (Lesson 4.2)
   How to conjugate most German verbs in the present tense. The second part of Lession 4.

Previous Lesson (Lektion 3)

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German for Beginners - Contents


Related Pages

50 Common German Verbs
A chart of the most common German verbs - with examples.

German Strong (Irregular) Verbs
The principal parts and conjugations of German irregular verbs, including "haben" and "sein."

Verb Review 1
Part One of a 3-part look at the ins and outs of German verbs. With self-scoring quiz.

English-German Glossaries
All of the annotated glossaries on this site - from aerospace to travel.

German Grammar
All of the grammar resources on this site.


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