Irregular Strong Verbs

Most verbs in German follow a regular pattern where the ending is simply added to the stem of the verb. But there are some variations where the spelling is slightly different. There is also a group of irregular verbs where there are changes in the stem of the verb.

schlafen - er schläft

essen - sie isst

sprechen - du sprichst

lesen - du liest

sehen - er sieht

fahren - du fährst, er fährt

sehen - du siehst, er sieht

geben - du gibst, er gibt

laufen - du läufst, er läuft

These changes apply to a limited number of verbs. It is recommended to learn these verbs by heart.

The past participles of irregular verbs ends in -en (except getan). Most irregular verbs also add the ge- prefix.

bringen - gebracht

nehmen - genommen

essen - gegessen

Note that the vowel and the stem in some participles, for example genommen/nehmen differ markedly from the infinitive, leaving little but the first letter of the stem as a clue to help you find the infinitive of the irregular verb. There is no way to recognize which verbs change the stem vowel in the past participle. They need to be memorized. Learning the principal parts (infinitive stem, past form and past participle form) is time well spent and the best way is to learn them out loud so that your ear helps you to memorize the vowel patterns.


Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension