In this post I’m going to give you a list of the 75 most common German verbs. Aiming to learn as many of the most common German verbs will enable you to manage many everyday situations, while not having to worry about less common verbs that you are less likely to use.
You will also learn about what verbs are and how to use them correctly in a sentence.
What Are Verbs?
Verbs are seriously important words, we use them in every sentence. Often more than one verb in a sentence is used. They are used to describe everything; actions, physical states, thoughts and experiences. Without verbs, sentences would make no sense. In the following sentences the verbs are highlighted:
- We are flying to Germany soon.
- The children are going back to school.
- I fell asleep early last night.
Imagine these sentences with the verbs removed. You wouldn’t get the whole picture if someone said ‘we to Germany soon’.
Top tip: As a general rule, if you can put ‘I’, ‘he/she/it’ or ‘we’ in front of a word, that word is a verb.
Due to the long length of the list of verbs, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post. Click here to jump straight to the most common German verbs list.
Sentence Structure Rules
German sentence structure is a complex topic, you can read the complete guide to German sentence structure here. However there are a few simple rules to remember for verb placement in sentences that will make learning German much easier! In German, if there is one verb in a sentence, that verb usually goes in position 2.
|Das Hund||spielt||mit dem Ball|
|Das Haus||ist||sehr groß|
If there is more than one verb in a sentence, the conjugated verb goes in position 2. The other, unconjugated verb goes to the end.
|Die Katze||will||nach draußen||gehen|
For asking questions, the structure is almost the same as English, the verb moves to position 1. If there is a second, unconjugated verb, that goes to the end.
|Hast||du||etwas für mich?|
|Könnte||ich||noch einen Tee||haben?|
What are the German Modal Verbs?
The German modal verbs are a little different to other verbs, but they are among the most common German verbs. They are used along with another verb, and are used to express desire, possibility, obligation, or permission.
The modal verb changes the meaning of the sentence depending on which modal verb is used. In German there are 6 modal verbs:
- dürfen = may / be allowed
- können = can
- mögen = like
- müssen = must / have to
- sollen = should
- wollen = want / wish
The modal verb is conjugated and in position 2, and the other infinitive verb goes to the end.
- Wir müssen morgen nach Berlin fahren.
- Ich will Schokolade essen.
- Er kann die Kinder abholen.
The modal verb changes the intention of the other verb. Let’s use the verb gehen as an example:
- Ich gehe in den Park.
- (I am going to the park)
- Ich möchte in den Park gehen
- (I would like to go to the park)
- Ich kann in den Park gehen
- (I can go to the park)
- Darf ich in den Park gehen?
- (May I go to the park?)
- Soll ich in den Park gehen?
- (Should I got to the park?)
- Ich will in den Park gehen
- (I want to go to the park)
- Ich muss in den Park gehen
- (I must go to the park)
You can see that we use the same verb gehen, but in changing the modal verb, the whole meaning of the sentence changes.
Everyday German Verbs
As I’ve gone along my German journey, I’ve learned the most common German verbs first. Most of the verbs listed below are useful for most people. Some are essential and you will use them in every conversation. Others you may not use much, and will be harder to remember. But listed below are the verbs I’ve have found extremely useful for everyday conversations.
The list may seem intimidating, but don’t feel that you need to learn them all at once. Think about the conversations you like to have and what your interests are. Some verbs you will use all the time, others you will struggle to recall when you need them. But the important thing is that you start to realise which verbs you need for your own situation.
With all that said, here is my list of the most common German verbs (by the way, you can also download this list as a PDF).
|können||can / be able|
|müssen||have to / must|
|dürfen||may / be allowed|
|wollen||want / wish|
|suchen||to search / look for|
|gehen||to go (on foot)|
|fahren||to go (by vehicle)|
|mitkommen||to come with|
|gucken||to watch (TV etc.)|
|übernachten||to stay overnight|
|besuchen||to visit (people)|
|besichtigen||to visit (sightseeing)|
|machen||to do / make|
|legen||to lie down|
|wohnen||to live / reside|
|studieren||to study (at uni / college)|
|aufschreiben||to write down|
So now you know the most common German verbs that you can use in everyday situations and how to correctly use them in a sentence.