Sprechen Conjugation in German

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 will talk about the German verb 'sprechen'. We will take a look at its irregular conjugation and how to correctly use it in different sentences and phrases.

Let's Talk!

Sprechen is translated as 'to speak', 'to talk' or 'to say' and is a really useful verb to know. Whether you want to say that you speak or don't speak a language, ask if you can talk to someone or want to encourage someone to say something, you will have to use this verb. Today, we will take a look at this verb and its irregularities as well as how to conjugate it in the present tense. You will see how to use it in sentences and which similar verbs you can build out of it.

Conjugation of Sprechen in Present Tense

The verb sprechen is an irregular verb, meaning that, besides changing the endings for the persons, it will also occasionally change its stem.

Let's take a look at the conjugation of sprechen in present tense. Try to notice what changes within the verb and where:

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
ich spreche eeh SHPREH-heh I talk
du sprichst doo shpreehst you talk
er spricht ehr shpreeht he talks
sie spricht zee shpreeht she talks
es spricht ehs shpreeht it talks
wir sprechen veer SHPREH-hehn we talk
ihr sprecht eehr shprehkht you talk
sie sprechen zee SHPREH-hehn they talk
Sie sprechen zee SHPREH-hehn You talk (singular formal)

If you look closely enough, you will see that the verb changes its stem. In the second- and third-person singular (du, er, sie, es) the 'e' changes into 'i' (du sprichst, er spricht).

The endings are the standard ending for the German present tense (-e, -st, -t, -en, -t, -en).

Translation: She is talking.
sprechen

Conjugation of Sprechen in Past Tense

Sometimes, we will also have to talk about the past. The verb sprechen does not show its irregularities only in the present tense, but in the past as well. Let's take a look at what happens:

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
ich sprach eeh shprahkh I talked
du sprachst doo shprahkhst you talked
er sprach ehr shprahkh he talked
sie sprach zee shprahkh she talked
es sprach ehs shprahkh it talked
wir sprachen veer SHPRAH-hehn we talked
ihr spracht eehr shprahkht you talked
sie sprachen zee SHPRAH-hehn they talked
Sie sprachen zee SHPRAH-hehn You talked (singular formal)

Apart from adding the standard endings for irregular verbs for the German past tense, or Präteritum, (-/,-st,-/,-en,-t,-en), there is also another change happening. Because sprechen is an irregular verb, a stem change happens. In this case, the 'e' in the verb stem changes into 'a' in all persons singular and plural (sprechen - sprach).

Because the endings in some persons will be the same for present and past tense, this stem change will be the only clue showing you which tense the verb is in. For example:

Du sprichst mit ihm. (You are talking to him.)

Du sprachst mit ihm. (You talked to him.)

Examples

As we mentioned, the verb sprechen means 'to speak', 'to talk' or 'to say' and can be used in a lot of different situations. Here are a few example sentences to show you the different occasions where you can use it.

In the present tense:

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