1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. Perfect Verb Conjugation: -(e…


Perfect Verb Conjugation: -(e)t or -en?

I've noticed that most of the verbs when being conjugated for the perfect tense take the prefix ge- and either the suffix -(e)t or -en. The problem is, I'm unsure of whether a verb would take one of these suffixes or the other. Is there a system? Or does it have to be memorized? help would be appreciated.

January 28, 2018

1 Comment


For the most part, it just has to be memorized, unfortunately, but if you just practice a lot and get used to hearing it, you won't even have to think about it. In German there are weak verbs, strong verbs, and mixed verbs, and if you have a physical dictionary, there might be a list somewhere in the back that lists all the strong and mixed verbs. Look for a section called "Irregular German verbs" or something along those lines. It was probably the most helpful thing to me while I was trying to get the hang of these, and fortunately, the vast majority of verbs are regular weak verbs, so there is a finite, potentially memorizable list of strong and mixed verbs. In my very small dictionary (Langenscheidt pocket dictionary) it takes up about 2.5 pages, single sided.

Weak verbs are the 'regular' verbs, the basic form is ge+(verb stem)+t. Of course, exceptions exist even for this, but they're mostly related to the ge at the beginning, and apply to strong and mixed verbs as well. Inseperable prefixes replace the ge (hat besucht), separable prefixes precede it (ist aufgewacht), and verbs that end in -ieren just don't take a ge for some reason, I guess it just doesn't sound good. (hat passiert)

Strong verbs are the ones that take the -en ending, and they often involve a stem change as well, but not necessarily. For example, hat geschrieben from the verb stem schreib switches the ei->ie and uses a -en ending.

Mixed verbs generally follow the weak verb form, but they still have a stem change. For example, hat gebracht changes the stem bring to brach, but otherwise looks like a weak verb.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.