Haben Conjugation in German

Instructor: Penelope Heinigk

Penelope holds a doctorate degree in German and a professional teaching license in the state of Colorado. She has taught middle school through university, online and live.

In this lesson we will learn the present tense and imperfect (simple past) test forms of one of the most essential verbs in the German language: 'to have'.

Haben (to have)

Ever thought about how much you use the verb 'to have'? Certainly it's a daily, if not hourly occurrence!

  • Do you have time to meet?
  • I have a meeting in five minutes.
  • We have lots to do today.

'To have' is one of the most essential verbs in both the English and German language. In German, haben (to have) is important not just for its meaning, but as an auxiliary verb for other tenses and its use in a number of expressions. It is best to memorize the irregular conjugation of haben straight away.

Conjugation: Present Tense

The present tense is used to describe actions and events going on in the here and now. Let's take a look at how haben is conjugated.

Verb: haben HAH-bin, to have

Subject
Pronoun
Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
ich habe HAH-buh I have
du hast hahst you have (singular, familiar)
er, sie, es hat haht he, she, it has
wir haben HAH-bin we have
ihr habt hahpt you have (plural, familiar)
sie haben HAH-bin they have
Sie haben HAH-bin you have (formal)

Translation: What do you have in the bag?
present

Example Conversation

Meet Tina, Jens, and Melanie who are high school students who just got their schedules. Notice the use of the verb haben.

Tina: Was habt ihr zuerst? (What do you have first?)

Jens: Melanie und ich haben beide Mathe. (Melanie and I both have math.)

Menanie: Was hast du Tina? (What do you have Tina?)

Tina: Ich habe auch Mathe. (I have math too.)

Jens: Das ist toll! Ich glaube, Hans hat auch Mathe zuerst. (That is great! I believe Hans has math first too.)

Menalie: Das macht Spaß. Das ist das erste Mal, daß wir alle zusammen eine Klasse haben. (That will be fun. That is the first time that we all have a class together.)

Conjugation: Imperfect (Simple Past)

Now let's take a look at another tense. The imperfect (also referred to as the simple past) is used for completed actions and events that took place in the past.

Verb: haben HAH-bin, to have

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
ich hatte HAH-tuh I had
du hattest HAH-test you had (singular, familiar)
er, sie, es hatte HAH-tuh he, she, it had
wir hatten HAH-tin we had
ihr hattet HAH-tet you had (plural, familiar)
sie hatten HAHT-in they had
Sie hatten HAHT-in you had (formal)

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