Are you a beginner German student? Practicing your grammar skills is important to your ongoing success. Teacher Noel S. shares some German grammar exercises you can use to help refine your skills…
After you’ve spent some time learning words for various people, places, and things, naturally you’ll want to put those new words into action. While you’re eager to gain command over new grammar skills, it’s best to start with the basics. Every language has different variables that need to be memorized; for instance, which gender a specific noun has. These variables will be learned over time, with experience, and lots of practice. So, let’s get on the fast track to learning German with the following three grammar exercises:
German Grammar Exercise 1: Changing Verb Endings According to their Subject Pronoun
The subject pronouns used in German are the same as the singular ones used in English; for example, I (ich), you (du), he (er), she (sie), it (es). In addition, there are also three plural subjects: we (wir), you (ihr), and they (sie). It’s important to note that in German there’s one formal subject for you (Sie) which takes on its own verb ending that is different from the informal singular or informal plural “you” subjects.
When the pronoun changes, the verb ending changes too. For example, if you want to say “I play guitar,” you take the I pronoun (ich) + the verb stem (spiel) + the correct verb ending used with the ich pronoun (e), put it all together for an easy conjugation formula: Ich spiele Gitarre.
We can master this part of German grammar with some practice changing verb endings. First, follow the sample exercise below in which we take the verb stem and add the boldface ending for each subject pronoun. After you’ve reviewed the sample, try changing the endings on your own with the verbs below.
Infinitive Verb: spielen (to play)
ich spiele Gitarre du spielst Gitarre er, sie, es spielt Gitarre wir spielen Gitarre
ihr spielt Gitarre sie (they) spielen Gitarre Sie spielen Gitarre
Infinitive Verb: hören (to listen or hear)
ich höre Salsa-Musik du__________ er__________ wir__________
ihr__________ sie (they)__________ Sie__________
Infinitive Verb: trinken (to drink)
ich trinke Wasser du__________ er__________ wir__________
ihr__________ sie (they)__________ sie__________
German Grammar Exercise 2: Making a Question Using Conjugated German Verbs
Now that you’ve mastered changing verb endings according to their subject pronoun, use your new skill to easily make a question. Making a question using conjugated verbs is as easy as switching the subject and the verb. See the example below for reference.
Before:”Er trinkt Cola.” (He drinks cola.)
After: “Trinkt er Cola?” (Is he drinking cola?).
Now it’s your turn! Change each sentence below into a question:
- Er reist gern. (He likes traveling.)
- Du spielst immer Tennis. (You always play tennis.)
- Sie ist ledig. (She is single)
- Sie essen Fisch. (They eat fish)
- Ich liebe Kaffee. (I love coffee) Try changing this one to “Do you love coffee?”
German Grammar Exercise 3: Placing an Expression of Time After the Verb and Before a Place
Want to add even more detail to your sentences? German natives will be delighted to hear you speak their language confidently and correctly, so let’s make sure you add details in the right spot.
In the sample exercise below, we’re stating that the flowers are beautiful. If we want to add even more detail, we can easily insert an expressions of time ( i.e. springtime). The words contained in parentheses are an expression of time. Add the time expression from the parentheses after the verb and before the noun to complete the sentence.
Before: Die Blumen sind besonders schön. (im Frühling)
After: Die Blumen sind im Frühling besonders schön.
Rewrite each of the following sentences to include the expression of time:
- Wir machen eine Reise. (nächste Woche)
- Ich werde hier wohnen. (ein Monat)
- Er fährt nach Zürich. (jeden Tag)
Mastering these German grammar exercises can be difficult, but with consistent practice you can greatly improve your skills. If you need some help perfecting your grammar skills, you might want to consider taking private German lessons with an expert teacher who can give you the one-on-one attention you need to successfully navigate through the German language.
Noel S. teaches German and music lessons in Beachwood, OH. He minored in German during his undergraduate studies and holds a Masters degree in music from Dusquesne University. Noel has been teaching since 2001. Learn more about Noel.
Photo by Nina Helmer