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Differences between sleeping, slept and sleeps.

Hey Guys,

I am trying to figure out the correct meaning of sleeping in german. For example:

Does Ich Schlafe > Mean I am sleeping? Does Ihr Schlaft > Mean he is sleeping? Does Wir Schlafen > Mean they are sleeping?

I am asking because i want to know how to differentiate between sleeping, slept etc.

Can someone clarify for me? i keep hitting this same confusion where when a verb is conjugated i never seem to know what it actually means.

Thanks, Robert

March 22, 2018


  • I sleep (also I'm sleeping) = ich schlafe
  • you sleep = du schläfst (informal) / Sie schlafen (formal)
  • he/she/it sleeps = er/sie/es schläft
  • we sleep = wir schlafen
  • you (all) sleep = ihr schlaft (inf.) / Sie schlafen (form.)
  • they sleep = sie schlafen

The past participle (slept) is geschlafen (I've slept/I've been sleeping= Ich habe geschlafen), the present participle (sleeping) is schlafend (don't use it like "I'm sleeping", though! But you can say "I spent the morning sleeping" = "Ich verbrachte den Morgen schlafend")

The simple past (I slept) has a different stem, that is "schlief-", so it's

  • ich schlief
  • du schliefst (/Sie schliefen)
  • er/sie/es schlief
  • wir schliefen
  • ihr schlieft (/Sie schliefen)
  • sie schliefen

Verbs that change their stem and get this pattern of endings are called "strong verbs". If it would be a weak verb, the past would be "*ich schlafte", this is the regular past conjugation.


Thanks for the clarification Max. Most appreciated. What is the difference between "past participle" and "simple past" ? How are they different, i almost thought i had a breakthrough here with "Ge-" but well now i am back to confused.


The past participle is the form you need for compound times, like

  • Ich habe geschlafen = I have slept
  • Ich hatte geschlafen = I had slept
  • Ich werde geschlafen haben = I will have slept

while simple past (Präteritum) is not compound (but simple;-) ):

  • Ich schlief = I slept



Perhaps it would help to bookmark a site like this. http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-german.html


Yes, I have used that site many times and it works well, however i want to make sure i understand not only how to write, say the word correctly but why it works that way.

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