Strong Verbs

What are "Strong" Verbs?

German has just a handful of really irregular verbs like "sein" and "haben" that don't follow any rules. But there are some verbs that are kind of irregular, but in a regular way!

For example, some verbs have a vowel change when conjugated. We call such verbs "strong" verbs.

  • laufen ⇒ du läufst
  • sehen ⇒ du siehst
  • geben ⇒ du gibst

How Do I Know if there's a Vowel Change?

You have to memorize the verbs that have vowel changes, but there are some general rules!

First: the vowels "i," "o," and "u" never change!

Second, if "e" or "a" are the second letter in the verb (excluding prefixes), they almost always change.

  • geben ⇒ du gibst
  • fahren ⇒ du fährst
  • um | fahren ⇒ du umfährst

NOTE: THE ENDING DOES NOT CHANGE!!!

When Do We Change the Vowel?

The vowel change takes place only in 2nd and 3rd person singular. All other forms are conjugated like normal.

geben:        

ich gebe

du gibst

er / sie / es gibt

wir geben

ihr gebt

sie / Sie geben

What Does the Vowel Change to?

The vowel change is always: from "e" to "ie" or "i" OR from "a" to "ä"

Summary

  • "Strong" verbs have a vowel change when conjugated.
  • Only "e" and "a" can change, and only in the 2nd and 3rd person singular.
  • There is no universal rule, but a verb with "e" or "a" as the 2nd letter (excluding any prefix) will probably change.

Related Topics

Information about verbs in general: German Verbs.

There are some special verbs that are used quite often and have some different rules you need to know: Modal Verbs, "werden," and "lassen."