“to have” & “to be” in German – Explanation and Examples
“haben” & “sein” im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele
Well, you simply can’t avoid them. They are everywhere.. and they will find you, no matter if you speak English or German. So, look into the face of your two worst enemies in this article: To be and to have in German.
Statistically, these two verbs are the most common ones in both languages. You simply need them when you “want to have a coffee”, or “when you are sad”. Apart from that, they are of high importance when you want to form different kinds of grammatical structures.
“Sein” – to be
“Haben” – to have
Please, try tp keep “to be and to have” in German in mind! As I have already mentioned these two verbs appear really frequently and have an important role as auxiliary verbs. In the following, we will clear up what “to have” and “to be” in German actually mean and in which grammatical constructions they are used. By the end of this lesson, you’ll be able to express your state of being, as well as what you have, with ease!
The Conjugation of “haben” & “sein” in Present Tense
Die Konjugation von “haben” & “sein” in der Gegewart
Forms of to have in German
Well, we will start learning something about the verb “haben” (to have). Actually, it is a little easier than “sein” (to be), as it has a simpler conjugation. Of course, “haben” is the infinite of the verb. In the following, we will discover its conjugation in different tenses and further of the verb to have in German. So, here is its conjugation in the present tense.
|ich habe||I have|
|du hast||you have|
|er/sie/es hat||he/she/it has|
|wir haben||we have|
|ihr habt||you have|
|sie haben||they have|
For sure, you could observe that the verb to have in German has the stem “ha” and changes its word endings depending on the person. Its different forms are actually quite regular – so, if you want to refresh your knowledge about word conjugation, have a short look at our article about German verbs!
Forms of to be in German
Well, the forms of to be in German are a bit more difficult than the ones of to have. Here, we are talking about a irregular verb. So, there is no real rule that you can follow to understand the conjugation of “sein”, you simply have to learn and memorize its different forms.
|Ich bin||I am|
|Du bist||You are|
|Er/Sie/Es ist||He/She/It is|
|Wir sind||We are|
|Ihr seid||You are|
|Sie sind||They are|
Now, as we have cleared up the basic forms of “haben” and “sein”, you should know when to use them. Generally, it is quite similar to the use of “to have” and “to be” in English: First, if you want to express possession, you should use to have in German. Second, if you want to express feelings or emotion, you can use “sein”.
The Conjugation of “haben” & “sein” in Past Tense
Die Konjugation von “sein” & “haben” in der Vergangenheit
Forms of “Haben”
After we have cleared up the forms of “sein” and “haben” in German present tense, let’s talk about their forms in the past tense. First of all, you have a infinitive form of these verbs in the past tense:
- “waren” – was
- “hatten” – had
And without loosing too much time, I want to show this table, where you can see their conjugation in the past tense. We will start with “haben”, as a more regular verb.
|Ich hatte||I had|
|Du hattest||You had|
|Er/Sie/Es hatte||He/She/It had|
|Wir hatten||We had|
|Ihr hattet||You had|
|Sie hatten||They had|
Forms of “Sein”
Of course, you can clearly see the word stem and the regular changes of the word endings, depending on the person. Unfortunately, the conjugation of “sein” remains irregular. Here you have the table showing them.
|Ich war||I was|
|Du warst||You were|
|Er/Sie/Es war||He/She/It was|
|Wir waren||We were|
|Ihr wart||You were|
|Sie waren||They were|
Well, we have completed the forms of “to be” and “to have” in German in the past tense. As in the present tense forms, “haben” has regular forms, whereas “sein” is still irregular. So, you simply have to learn these forms by heart.
The Conjugation of “haben” & “sein” in Perfect Tense
Die Konjugation von “sein” & “haben” im Perfekt
Forms of “Haben”
Now, we have reached a tense where you can see the importance of the different forms of “sein” and “haben”: You need it every time you want to form verbs in the perfect tense. So, let’s start right ahead with the forms of “haben” in perfect tense.
|Ich habe gehabt||I have had|
|Du hast gehabt||You have had|
|Er/Sie/Es hat gehabt||He/She/It has had|
|Wir haben gehabt||We have had|
|Ihr habt gehabt||You have had|
|Sie haben gehabt||They have had|
Actually, “sein” works the same way. The form of the present tense works as an auxiliary verb. So, let’s have a look at the forms of “sein” in the perfect tense.
Forms of “Sein”
|Ich bin gewesen||I have been|
|Du bist gewesen||You have been|
|Er/Sie/Es ist gewesen||He/She/it has been|
|Wir sind gewesen||We have been|
|Ihr seid gewesen||You have been|
|Sie sind gewesen||They have been|
Well, if you want to say, “She has been (was) glad,” you’ll need to use “sein” twice in the German sentence:
- “sein” conjugated as”sie ist” and
- the past participle of “sein”, “gewesen”.
So you will get the sentence “Sie ist froh gewesen.” As you can see here, we use “to have” in English to produce a sentence like “We have but “to be,” or “sein”, in German. If you say:
Wir haben eine Party gehabt.
This follows the same rules as when using these forms of perfect tense of to be.
The Conjugation of “haben” & “sein” in Future Tense
Die Konjugation von “sein” & “haben” im Futur
Forms of to have in German
Finally, we will learn the forms of to be and to have in German in fourth most common tense in German. So, let’s go straight to the different forms. In contrast to the sections before, we will start with the forms of “sein”.
|Ich werde haben||I will have|
|Du wirst haben||You will have|
|Er/Sie/Es wird haben||He/She/It will have|
|Wir werden haben||We will have|
|Ihr werdet haben||You will have|
|Sie werden haben||They will have|
So, for the forms of to have in German in the future tense, we will need future tense forms of “sein” as an auxiliary verb. Here you have the table of its forms.
Forms of “to be”
|Ich werde||I will|
|Du wirst||You will|
|Er/Sie/Es wird||He/She/It will|
|Wir werden||We will|
|Ihr werdet||You will|
|Sie werden||They will|
Actually, the future forms of to be and to have in German are not so complicated, as they are really similar to the way it is formed in the English language.
Well, I hope I could clear up things for you – to be and to have in German are not as difficult as you might think. Put a lot of elbow grease in studying them, especially the irregular forms of “sein”. They are a crucial element of German grammar, as they are also for the English language. By the way, if you want practice the use of to be and to have in German, enter this website where you can find great interactive exercises.
Finally we have reached the last part of this article where you can proof the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and .. auf Wiedersehen!