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The German Verb Rufen: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Jens Bargmann

Jens is a native German and has taught adults both in Germany and in the United States. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy/Ethics.

In this lesson, we will learn about the German verb 'rufen,' which can have different meanings, the predominant being 'to call' or 'to shout.' We will conjugate this verb and learn how to pronounce it in its different forms.

Rufen: Definition

This German verb sound like it might have to do with a house's roof or perhaps roofing, but it does not--it just sounds similar. Depending on the context in which it is used, rufen can have different meanings.

It can mean 'to call' someone, as in calling someone over. However, it does NOT mean to call someone on the phone (that would be anrufen in German).

It can also mean 'to shout,' or 'to exclaim.' Further, it can mean 'to summon' someone, something a boss might do if he needs to see his co-worker.

Translation: Sometimes, when it is loud, you have to shout to be heard.
Shouting

Rufen: Conjugation

The following table shows us the conjugation of rufen in the present tense active voice.

Subject Pronoun rufen Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
Ich Ich rufe ikh ROO-feh I call
Du Du rufst doo ROOFST You call
Er/Sie/Es Er/Sie/Es ruft air/zee/ess ROOFT He/She/It calls
Wir Wir rufen veer ROO-fen We call
Ihr Ihr ruft eer ROOFT You call
Sie Sie rufen zee ROO-fen They call
  • Ich rufe Dich. (I call you.)
  • Ruft Ihr uns? (Do you call us?)
  • Wir rufen Euch. (We call you.)

The next table shows us the conjugation of rufen in the present tense passive voice.

Subject Pronoun rufen Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
Ich Ich werde gerufen ikh VAIR-deh geh-ROO-fen I am called
Du Du wirst gerufen doo virst geh-ROO-fen You are called
Er/Sie/Es Er/Sie/Es wird gerufen air/zee/ess vird geh-ROO-fen He/She/It is called
Wir Wir werden gerufen veer VAIR-den geh-ROO-fen We are called
Ihr Ihr werdet gerufen eer VAIR-det geh-ROO-fen You are called
Sie Sie werden gerufen zee VAIR-den geh-ROO-fen They are called
  • Du wirst von ihnen gerufen. (You are called by them.)
  • Werde ich gerufen? (Am I called?)
  • Du wirst jetzt gerufen. (You are called now.)

Example Conversation

Let's say you are on vacation in Berlin. You walk down the Kurfürstendamm, one of the major shopping streets in town. You unexpectedly see your German friend Annette on the other side of the street, and you are calling her.

You: Heh, Annette! (Hey, Annette!)

Annette: Wer ruft mich? (Who calls me?)

You: Ich! Ich rufe Dich! (Me! I call you!)

Annette: Ich weiss, ich werde gerufen. Von wem? (I know I am called. By whom?)

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