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Gehen Conjugation: Past, Present, Perfect & Imperative Tenses

Instructor: Samantha Green

Sam is from the UK but lives in the USA, she has taught college German and has both a bachelor's and master's degree in German Studies

'Gehen' is the German verb for 'to go'. It's a very useful common verb, so today's lesson intends to teach you how to use it in the most common forms: past, present, perfect, and the imperative.

The Conjugations of Gehen

We all like to think we're going to go somewhere in life, whether that be to travel the world, have an amazing career, have a family or even go down in history. But to go anywhere in the German language, you need to know how to use the verb gehen (pronounced GAY-ehn: 'to go').

Present Tense

In English, we have a number of ways to express the present tense: I go, I am going. Let's look at the German present tense, known as das Präsens (pronounced as dahs PRAH-sehns).

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
ich gehe GAY-eh I go/I am going
du gehst GAY-st You go/You are going
er/sie/es geht gayt he/she/it goes/it is going
wir gehen GAY-ehn we go/we are going
ihr geht gayt you go/you are going
sie/Sie gehen GAY-ehn they/you go/are going
  • Ich gehe ins Fitness Studio. (I'm going to the gym.)
  • Wo geht ihr? (Where are you all going?)

Simple Past Tense

The simple past is known as both das Präteritum (pronounced dahs PRAE-tearih-tuhm) and das Imperfekt (pronounced dahs IHM-puhr-fekt) in German. We use the simple past to WRITE about events that happened in the past and are now over.

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
ich ging gihng I went
du gingst GIHNG-st you went
er/sie/es ging gihng er/she/it went
wir gingen GIHNG-ehn we went
ihr gingt gihngt you went
sie/Sie gingen GIHNG-ehn you/they went
  • Letzen Jahr gingen wir nach Wien. (Last year, we went to Vienna.)
  • Als du fünf Jahre alt warst, gingst du nach Disneylan. (When you were 5 years old, you went to Disneyland.)

Translation: Last year, we went to Vienna.
gingen nach Wien

Perfect Tense

The perfect tense is the tense used to describe past events in SPOKEN German. In German, it is called das Perfekt (pronounced dahs PUHR-fehkt). It is a compound tense, meaning you use an auxiliary verb plus a past participle to form this tense. Gehen is a verb of movement, so its auxiliary verb is sein (to be).

Pronoun Conjugation/Past Participle Pronunciation Translation
ich bin gegangen bihn GUH-gahng-ehn I went/have gone
du bist gegangen bihst GUH-gahng-ehn you went/have gone
er/sie/es ist gegangen ihst GUH-gahng-ehn he/she/it went/has gone
wir sind gegangen zihnd GUH-gahng-ehn we went/have gone
ihr seid gegangen ziyd GUH-gahng-ehn you (all) went/have gone
sie/Sie sind gegangen zihnd GUH-gahng-ehn they/you went/have gone
  • Er ist zur Schule gegangen. (He went/has gone to school.)
  • Sie sind ins Kino gegangen. (They went/have gone to the movies.)

Translation: He has gone to school.
zur Schule gegangen

Imperative

The imperative is the verb voice we use to make suggestions and issue commands. It is only used in four forms: Sie, wir, ihr and du. When using it with Sie and wir, the pronoun is included. When using the du and ihr form, the pronoun is not included.

Imperative Form Pronunciation Translation
gehen Sie GAY-ehn zee go
gehen wir GAY-ehn vihr let's go
geht ihr gayht ear go
geh du gay doo go
  • Gehen Sie nach Hause. (Go home.)
  • Gehen wir schwimmen! (Let's go swimming.)
  • Geht allein! (Go by yourselves!)
  • Geh doch weg! (Go away!)

Example Conversation

You're sitting at home really bored and you want to go somewhere, so you call your best friend, Tanja, to discuss options.

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