As German learners, we don’t want to linger in grammar books and flip through conjugation explanations. We all want to get through our grammar studies quickly so we can get to our destination: German fluency and the ability to communicate with native speakers are required. There are a number of helpful hacks for German learners that can help you learn German grammar in a simple way. So let’s get started!
In this guide, we will let you know different techniques to make you understand and learn German grammar. Stick to this guide till the end to gain some deeper insights into German grammar.
Understanding verb conjugation
Put German verb conjugation rules into groups that you can apply to many different verbs to learn German grammar quickly and easily. We will get you started with some common verb groupings for German students.
Follow these simple instructions for regular verbs (where the stem does not change in different verb forms), such as trinken (to drink), machen (to do/make), and suchen (to search).
Subtract the -en from the infinitive. You are only left with the stem. Then, to the stem, add the appropriate ending:
– Ich (I): -e
– Du (informal you): -st
– Ihr (you all) and er, sie, es (he, she, it): -t
The conjugations for Sie (you formal), wir (we), and sie (they) remain the same as the infinitive, and this rule applies to all regular and irregular verbs in German. As an example, apply this rule to the conjugation of the verb machen (to do):
– ich mache
– du machst
– er/sie/es macht
– ihr macht
– wir/Sie/sie machen
We have verbs whose stems change depending on the form. It is easier to remember such verbs if they are further classified into three major groups:
– Stem change e to ie. Eg: lesen (to read): ich lese, du liest, er/sie/es liest, ihr lest, wir/Sie/sie lesen
– Stem change a to ä. Eg: fahren (to drive): ich fahre, du fährst, er/sie/es fährt, ihr fahrt, wir/Sie/sie fahren
– Stem change e to i. Eg: geben (to give): ich gebe, du gibst, er/sie/es gibt, ihr gebt, wir/Sie/sie geben
You may have noticed that the verb conjugation rules are very similar to regular verbs. The only difference is that the stem in the du and er/sie/es forms have changed.
Haben and Sein
Haben (to have) and sein (to be) are two of the most important verbs in German. The conjugations of these verbs must be memorized.
One simple method is to take a cardboard or wood die and label all the pronouns: ich, du, er, sie, es… (I, you, he, she, it). Then, for each pronoun that appears, roll the die and state the correct conjugation. This trick works for verbs where the conjugations are simply memorized.
In German, there are numerous irregular verbs. Unfortunately, this means that there is a long list of verbs that you must memorize individually because they do not fit the usual conjugation patterns.
Adding verbs to a verb book is one of the simplest ways to work your way through them. You can make one quickly out of a journal or notepad.
On each page, divide the text into four columns: one for the English translation, one for the present tense, one for the past tense, and one for the future tense. Other tenses, such as the conditional, could be added, but if you’re a beginner, these four columns should suffice for now. Conjugate the verbs using your grammar book or your favorite conjugation app.
It’s critical that you return to this verb book frequently to review each word and try to memorize the conjugation. Constantly going over them can help them stick, especially if you say them out loud! Not only that, but you’ll notice that there are some patterns in irregular verbs. Spot them!
German verb placement
Depending on the type of sentence, the verb positions in German are quite rigidly placed. When constructing a sentence in German, use these shortcuts to ensure proper word order:
– In W Fragen (W Questions), the verb comes second, after the question word.
Woher kommen Sie? (Where do you come from?)
– In statements, the verb again comes in the second position (after the subject).
Ich komme aus Deutschland. (I come from Germany.)
– In yes/no questions (Ja/Nein Fragen) the verb comes first.
Kommen Sie aus Deutschland? (Do you come from Germany?)
– When a comma separates two clauses, the following verb is usually moved to the end. In German, clauses must be separated by a comma, but this is not always necessary in English. You must always pay attention to these commas because they serve as guideposts, indicating that the following verb should be placed at the end of the sentence.
Knowing these verb placements is essential in order to become fluent in German. Proper verb placement is required to structure German sentences without any errors.
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To help remember word order, box, circle, underline, or write the verbs in different colors in the sentence. This helps to create a mental image that makes you feel as if something is wrong when you misplace the verb and prompts you to correct it.
Breakable verbs are a distinctive feature of the German language, with over 12,000 of them. It’s critical to understand the syntax of breakable verbs, how they’re used, and where to put them in a sentence.
Each breakable verb is made up of a verb and a prefix. The verb is the primary tool, and the prefix is an accessory. You can mix and match these prefixes and accessories to create new meanings. To remember the meanings of breakable verbs, it makes sense to list them according to their verb stems.
If you consider the verb stem fahren, there’s a series of breakable verbs building off of it:
– abfahren: to depart—which breaks into fahren and ab (prefix)
– losfahren: to drive away—which breaks into fahren and los (prefix)
– zurückfahren: to drive back—which breaks into fahren and zurück (prefix)
In this way, one can improve one’s German vocabulary by creating word lists or trees with different verb stems of breakable verbs.
In German sentences, time can begin a statement (but not a question) or be placed anywhere. For example:
– Heute gehe ich in die Bäckerei. (Today, I’m going to the bakery.)
– Ich gehe am Wochenende ins Kino. (I go to the cinema on the weekend.
In German, the main five modal verbs are können (can), müssen (must), dürfen (may), sollen (should), and wollen (want). These are complete modal verbs because they must be followed by a second main verb.
Möchten and mögen are partial modal verbs. They are partial modal verbs because a second verb is not required. It is critical to associate modal verbs with their context. Each modal verb has a specific context in which it can be used:
– können is used to express ability/talent
– müssen is used to express forced conditions
– dürfen is used to express permission in legal and personal situations
– sollen is used to express advice
– wollen is used to express a strong desire
– möchten is the equivalent of “would like” and is used to politely ask for something like a coffee or an order
– mögen is used to express general likes and dislikes
The conjugations of each of these verbs must then be learned. The dice technique can be used again. Modal verbs are neither regular nor irregular; they are simply a distinct set of verbs that function differently. They are mostly used as auxiliary verbs.
The ich and er/sie/es conjugations of modal verbs are the same, making them a little easier to remember. After you have memorized the conjugations, you will need to learn how to position the words in a sentence.
The modal verb appears in the second position in statements and W questions (after the question word or the subject), whereas it appears in the first position in yes/no questions, conjugated according to the subject pronoun. The infinitive form of the second verb appears at the end.
– Wann kannst du morgen kommen? (When can you come tomorrow?)
– Ich soll viel Wasser trinken. (I should drink a lot of water.)
– Darf ich hier parken? (May I park here?)
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In this post, we have discussed some tips to learn German fast. Follow these tips to learn German grammar easily. Practice them again and again while using different examples. It is essential to gain perfection in German grammar.
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