“To be, or not to be” – the verb “sein” in German

“To be, or not to be” – the verb “sein” in German

If you study German, one of the most important and probably the first verb you will need is “to be”. In this article, you will learn how to conjugate the essential verb “sein” and how you can properly integrate it while speaking.

The verb “sein” in German

In German, the verb “sein” has almost all the roles which English or other Latin based languages. With this in mind, it should be very obvious to you that you will need to use this verb very often. Also, it is a kind of special verb like “haben” (to have) and therefore, you should pay special attention to it.

In the following, you wil find a brief explanation of when and how to use the verb “sein” in German.

 

The possibilities “sein” offers

As a basic verb, “sein” gives you the following possibilities to express:

 

The main verb “sein”:

The main verb expresses the fact, that it is the only verb in the sentence. Therefore, in German, it can be followed by a noun or an adjective. A noun is a subject or an object – a thing – and an adjective describes a noun.

  1. Sein + noun = Ich bin Student. – I am a student.
  2. Sein + adjective = Er ist groß. – He is tall.

 

The auxiliary verb “sein”:

In the same way, we do in English, we can also use “sein” as an auxiliary verb in German. The literal translation for this kind of verbs in German is “helping verb” (das Hilfsverb) which describes exactly what it does – it helps to express something else. In the following example, it helps to express the past tense.

  1. Ich bin nach Hause gegangen. (expressing past tense) – I have gone home.

 

How to conjugate “sein”

In this article, we will focus on “sein” as the main verb. As you might remember from English, also the verb “to be” is irregular. We do say I am and you are instead of “I be and you be”.

The same applies to German! Therefore, you need to conjugate the verb “sein” as follows and not regarding the general rules of German verb conjugating:

 

“Sein” conjugation

ich bin I am
du bist you are
er ist he is
sie ist she is
es ist it is
wir sind we are
ihr seid you are
sie sind they are
Sie sind formal speech

 

Now, as you know how to use the verb “to be” you can start to introduce and talk about yourself using it.

 

Examples for using “sein” in German:

Ich bin Jana. I am Jana.
Ich bin Studentin. I am a student.
Ich bin 24 Jahre alt. I am 24 years old.
Ich bin aus Belgien. I’m from Belgium.
Ich bin Vegetarierin I’m a vegetarian
Ich bin Single. I’m single.
Ich bin klein. I am small.
Ich bin müde. I am tired.
Ich bin neu hier. I’m new here.

 

Now you should be able to use the verb “sein” in your everyday life. Since this is an essential verb which you will need to use all the time, make yourself a favor and study it properly so you will not stumble over other problems later on in your German studies.

 

Bis bald!

Steffie

 


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