Irregular verbs, sometimes called strong verbs, have irregularities in the present tense indicative or the simple past indicative and the past participle. In today’s blog, we would like to look closely at irregular verbs in the present tense indicative.
Indicative means that we are stating facts when using that verb. If you are not already an intermediate learner of German, then this mode is all you will have learned. All other modes can be deduced from the indicative.
A good German dictionary will indicate in the index whether a verb is irregular or not; usually, this is done with an abbreviation or a mark behind the verb. You can then look at the dictionary’s list of irregular verbs. It usually lists the infinitive, the 3rd person present tense, the simple past sometimes called the imperfect or preterite, and the past participle.
The 3rd person present is the one to look out for if you would like to conjugate an irregular verb in the present tense. It shows us the irregularity in the 3rd person but at the same time assumes that the learner knows that the change happening in the 3rd person present tense also occurs in the 2nd person singular. The first person singular almost always retains the stem of the infinitive plus the ending -e, apart from modal verbs and the verbs wissen, mögen and kennen which also change their stem in the 1st person singular. In the plural, all verbs retain their stem, apart from the verb sein, which is irregular throughout all Indo-European languages.
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