When you start German lessons, after a while you learn how to conjugate verbs. For English speakers that sounds strange, as in English there is no difference, except in the third form singular, where we add an ‘s’. So, the verb ‘play’ gets conjugated: I play, you play, he/ she/ it plays, we play, you play, they play. In German, however, the verb endings are different. You take the verb in its infinitive, remove the ‘en’ ending (which leaves you with the stem of the verb), then add an appropriate ending. Let’s stay with ‘play’, to play in German is ‘spielen’. Remove the ‘en’ leaves you with ‘spiel’. That’s the stem. Then you add different endings according to I, you, he, she , it ,we, you (plural) and they. So, do these rules apply to all German verbs? What about new words? Especially those English verbs that have been Germanised? Yes, the rules apply to those verbs, too, and where there might be some doubts, the Duden (Germany’s equivalent to the Oxford English dictionary, gives the rules. How about these – commonly known as ‘Denglish’ because there is a perfectly good German word already, but the German version of the English word is cool in many people’s eyes.
bookmarken – to bookmark (or markieren in ‘proper’ German)
sie/ Sie bookmarken
voten – to vote (or wählen in ‘proper’ German)
checken – to check (überprüfen)
sie/ Sie checken
twittern – to tweet
sie/ Sie twittern
googeln – to google
sie/ Sie googeln
adden – to add (hinzufügen)
But my favourite at the moment is liken – to like
The German Facebook like button says ‘gefällt mir’ but when Germans want to say that they have liked something, it’s easier to use the English verb ‘to like’ instead of saying “Ich habe auf ‘gefällt mir’ gedrückt” (I clicked on ‘like’) According to the German Huffington Post (Website sadly deleted in 2019) the Duden has decided on a strict German conjugation rule. I have not been able to find a confirmation on Duden’s website, but apparently it is:
Isn’t German great???
If you want more help on present tense verb conjugation, check out my Udemy course, or watch this sample lesson:
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