Sunday, 12 August 2007

The present tense

The present tense is pretty simple in German: there's only one. So where English has to choose between Sarah is walking to work and Sarah walks to work, German has only Sarah geht zu Fuß zur Arbeit. However, whereas English only has two different forms of each verb in the present tense (apart from for the verb to be), e.g. walk and walks, have and has, German verbs have lots of different forms in the present tense (typically four or five), depending on which personal pronoun you're using. (Personal pronouns are words like I, you, we and they.) This podcast explains more about the present tense and the different forms the verbs you use in it take.

To listen to the podcast on you computer, click here.


Jimmy said...

Welcome back again! Hopefully the Future podcast will be coming a little quicker?

Ali Ashburner said...

Hello that Laura from Reading uni who graduated in 98? If not - sorry - if yes - hello, this is Ali Ashburner. And either way, nice and organised podcast that I will use with my class :-)

Laura said...

Hi Ali,
Yes, I'm that Laura. Nice to hear from you again. Can you drop me an email at, so we can catch up?

Anonymous said...


just a small typo in the transcript: "der Fuß" (engl.: the foot) is (and always was) spelled with "ß" instead of "ss" because this "u" is a long vowel. (Well, the exception is that you may spell it with "ss" if you don't have the letter "ß" available on your keyboard but then you also should use "ae" for "ä", "oe" for "ö" and "ue" for "ü".)

Your theory about why very common verbs have a better chance of being irregular than less common words makes perfect sense. (My theory was that languages tend to add extra redundancy to the more common verbs, but that probably isn't a good reason since it applies to all verbs.)



Myrtone said...

Moien Laura,

In some dialects there is a continuous aspect. In Rinelandisch there is the form Sarah ist zu Fuss zur Arbeit am gehen and in some southern German dialects form is Sarah tut zu Fuss zur Arbeit.

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