This page is also part of
Lektion 16 of German for Beginners.
In the following chart you will find the conjugation of the irregular German verb wissen (to know). Although it is not a modal verb, the conjugation of wissen follows the same pattern as the modal verbs. Like the modals, and unlike normal German verbs, wissen has the same form for ich (1st person sing.) and er, sie, es (3rd person sing.). (For an introduction to the modals and a self-scoring quiz, see our Verb Review 2 page.)
German, like many other languages, has two different verbs that can correspond to the single English verb "to know." Like Spanish, Italian and French, for example, German makes a distinction between knowing or being familiar with a person or thing (kennen) AND knowing a fact (wissen).
The verb wissen is a stem-changing verb. That is to say, the infinitive's stem vowel i changes to ei in all the singular present tense forms (weiß), and to u in the past participle (gewusst). In many ways, as we said above, it behaves like a modal verb. Except for ihr wisst (formerly wißt), spelling reform has not affected wissen, so you should note that its singular forms are still spelled with an ess-zett (ß, except in Swiss German), while the plural forms use a double-s (ss).
This verb chart uses the new German spelling (die neue Rechtschreibung).
Modals | wissen | kennen | Strong (Irregular) Verbs
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Irregular Verbs - wissen PRÄSENS
WISSEN - to know (a fact) SINGULAR ich weiß
ich habe gewusst
I knew, have known
du hast gewusst
you knew, have known
er/sie hat gewusst
he/she knew, has known
WISSEN - to know (a fact) PLURAL wir/Sie*/sie wissen
we/you/they have to
wir/Sie*/sie haben gewusst
we/you/they knew, have known
you (pl.) know
you (pl.) knew
ihr habt gewusst
you (pl.) knew, have known
* Although "Sie" (formal "you") is always conjugated as a plural verb, it can refer to one or more person.
In Swiss German, the forms of wissen that have an ß are spelled with a double-s: ich weiss
Sample Sentences/Idioms with wissen
Er weiß Bescheid.
He knows all about it. (He's been kept informed.)
Weißt du, wann der Bus kommt?
Do you know when the bus is coming?
Ich habe nicht Bescheid gewusst.
I didn't know a thing about it.
More wissen examples in Lektion 16B
NEXT: Part 2 - More wissen conjugations
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Also see: kennen (to know a person/thing)
Quiz: to know
Test yourself on the "to know" verbs in German.
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