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Regular Verbs in the Present Tense (Präsens)


I. Theory

In German, the present tense functions in a very similar way to the present in English: verbs take different forms based on the pronoun with which they are used (I walk, he walks, you go, she goes). The German present tense has a slightly wider range of meaning than the present in English, in the sense that a verb in the simple present in German translates to both the simple present as well as the present progressive in English.

The simple present tense expresses a habitual action, a state or condition, or an action done at the moment of speaking, ex. I do, I speak, I learn, etc. The present progressive tense expresses an action that is in progress at the moment of speaking, ex. I am doing, I am speaking, I am learning, etc. Often, the simple present conveys the idea of a permanent state or situation, and the present progressive implies that an action or condition is temporary and may end at some point in the future.

In German, both tenses described above can be expressed using the Präsens.

Ich spreche.
I speak. (I am speaking).

Arbeitest du?
Do you work? (Are you working?)

Wir lernen Deutsch.
We learn German. (We are learning German.)

II. Forming the Present

The infinitive (the standard version of the verb - as it is seen in the dictionary), takes different forms in the present, known as conjugations, depending on who is performing the action expressed by the verb:

Ich gehe zum Park.
I go to the park.

Du gehst zum Park.
You go to the park.

Wir gehen zum Park.
We go to the park.

In the chart below, the regular endings of the German present tense can be seen:

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