Lernen Conjugation & Past Participle

Instructor: Sandra Salajic

Sandra has a master's degree in teaching German. She has taught middle and high school German, and worked on different on- and offline courses with kids and adults.

In today's lesson, we are going to learn about the verb 'lernen' which means 'to study' or 'to learn.' We will take a look at its conjugation in the present tense and how to form and use its past participle form.

Let's Learn!

Whether you want to say that you are studying for an important exam, learning an essential life lesson, or trying to learn a new language (for example German!), you will have to use the verb lernen (LEHR-nehn).

In this lesson, we will learn how to use the verb lernen in the present tense, but also all the different ways to use its past participle form in various tenses and situations. So let's start learning!

Lernen in Present Tense

The verb lernen is a regular verb and it will follow the rules for the conjugation of regular verbs in the present tense. That means removing the infinitive ending '-en' and adding the endings for the present tense: -e, -st and -t for singular and -en, -t, -en for plural. Let's see what that looks like in the chart below:

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Pronunciation Meaning
ich lerne eeh LEHR-neh I learn
du lernst doo lehrnst you learn (singular)
er lernt ehr lehrnt he learns
sie lernt zee lehrnt she learns
es lernt ehs lehrnt it learns
wir lernen veer LEHR-nehn we learn
ihr lernt eehr lehrnt you learn (plural)
sie lernen zee LEHR-nehn they learn
Sie lernen zee LEHR-nehn you learn (singular and plural formal)


The verb lernen can mean 'to learn' or 'to study.' Let's see a few examples of how to use it in a sentence:

  • Ich lerne Deutsch. (I am learning German.)
  • Er lernt sehr viel für die Prüfung. (He is studying a lot for the exam.)
  • Sie lernt nie aus ihren Fehlern. (She never learns from her mistakes.)
  • Wir lernen sehr viel in diesem Kurs. (We learn a lot in this course.)

Translation: We are learning German.

Lernen in Past Participle

The past participle, or in German das Partizip II, is a form of the verb which will be used to build some compound tenses like the perfect or passive, but also to build adjectives. We will take a look at how to build the past participle and some of the most common ways to use it.

The past participle of regular verbs will be made by adding the prefix 'ge-' in front of the verb and the suffix '-t' at the end of the stem. Since the verb lernen is a regular verb, it will follow these rules:

  • ge + lern + t

So the past participle of lernen will be gelernt (geh-LEHRNT). Let's see some of the different ways we can use this verb form.


The most important use of the past participle is probably to build compound tenses, and the most used one is the perfect tense. It is a compound tense that is made of two parts. The first part is the auxiliary verb haben or sometimes sein, and the second part is the past participle of the main verb.

So the perfect tense of the verb lernen will look like this:

  • haben + gelernt

Let's see how to use the past participle of the verb lernen in some perfect tense sentences:

  • Ich habe gestern in der Schule sehr viel gelernt. (I learned a lot at school yesterday.)
  • Sie hat die ganze Nacht für die Prüfung gelernt. (She studied the whole night for the exam.)
  • Hast du in der Schule Englisch gelernt? (Did you study English at school?)

Notice that in the perfect tense, the participle will always come at the end of the sentence.

Translation: He studied a lot.

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