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Verb Haben in German

List of all topics in the level A1

This lesson contains topics:

  1. Haben definition
  2. Haben conjugation
  3. Examples of haben
  4. Forming question with haben
  5. A recall of the nominative case
  6. Adjective endings after indefinite articles in the nominative case

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Haben definition

The two most common verbs of the English language, “to be” (sein) and “to have” (haben), work almost similarly in German. We have already discussed the verb sein (to be) in the previous two lessons.

Ich habe ein Auto. (I have a car.)

Er hat zwei Autos. (He has two cars.)

In the English language, the verb "to have" comes in two different conjugated forms, which are "has" and "have."
Harry has a dog.
You have two cats.

We have learned the conjugation of the verb "sein" (to be) in the previous two lessons. We have also seen that "sein" has more conjugated forms than its English counterpart "to be". Similarly, the German verb "haben" has more conjugated forms than "to have". The conjugation of “haben” falls into the category of irregular verbs in German, but after learning the conjugations of "haben,” you can get a rough idea of the conjugation of all German verbs because all German verbs are conjugated more or less in the same manner as haben.

Conjugation of haben

Singular Plural
1. person
ich habe (I have)
wir haben (we have)
2. person, familiar form
du hast (you have)
ihr habt (you have)
2. person, polite form
Sie haben (you have)
Sie haben (you have)
3. person
er hat (he has)

es hat (it has)

sie hat (she has)

sie haben (they have)

Example sentences with haben

As already mentioned, most of the time, the use of “haben” is similar to its English counterpart "to have".

Ich habe ein Problem. (I have a problem.)

Wir haben kein Problem. (We have no problem.)

Du hast viel Geld. (You have much money.)

Er hat ein Problem. (He has a problem.)

Mein Auto ist gut aber hat ein Problem. (My car is good but has a problem.)

Ich habe zwei Autos. (I have two cars.)

Ich habe eine Frage. (I have a question.)
Ja bitte? (Yes, please?)

Haben Sie etwas Wasser? (Have you some water?)

Ich habe kein Wasser. (I have no water.)

However, there are some exceptions, like expressing feelings of hunger, thrust, and fear, where the verbs “to be” and “to have” are used interchangeably in English and German.

Ich habe Hunger. (I am hungry.)

Ich habe Durst. (I am thirsty.)

Ich habe Angst. (I am scared.)

Forming questions with haben

From the previous lesson, we know that in a question without an interrogative pronoun, the verb is the first element in the sentence.

Subject Verb Object
Hast du Problem?
Have you a problem?
Haben Sie kein Wasser?
Have you no water?
Hat er kein Geld?
Has he no money?

Vocabulary building

mein-auto Car illustration

Herr Schäfer hat ein Auto. Das Auto ist halb VW und halb BMW, aber wie ist es möglich? (Mr. Schäfer has a car. The car is half VW and half BMW, but how is it possible?)

person illustration Herr Schäfer, Sie sagen Ihr Auto ist halb VW und halb BMW, aber wie? (Mr. Schäfer, you say your car is half VW and half BMW, but how?)

person illustration Ja, ich habe eigentlich ein VW und das hat Motor und noch ein paar Teile von BMW. Deswegen ist das halb VW und halb BMW. (Yes, I have actually a VW and it has an engine and a few other parts from BMW. That's why it's half VW and half BMW.)

person illustration Sind Sie Mechaniker? (Are you a mechanic?)

person illustration Nein, ich bin nicht, aber ich habe ein Freund. Der ist Mechaniker. Seine Werkstatt ist in Köln. (No, I am not, but I have a friend. He is a mechanic. His workshop is in Cologne.)

person illustration Hat er die Werkstatt in Köln-Süd? Der heißt Heiko Müller oder? Er ist auch mein Freund. (Does he has the workshop in Cologne South? His name is Heiko Müller right? He is also my friend.)

person illustration Echt? (Really?)

person illustration Seit 10 Jahren sind wir Freunde, aber das ist doch ein schönes Auto. (We have been friends for 10 years, but that's a nice car.)

person illustration Danke, und auch ein sehr schnelles Auto. (Thanks, and also a very fast car.)

Wortschatz (Vocabulary)

möglich (possible)

sagen (to say), Was sagen Sie, sollen wir gehen? (What you say/What do you say, should we go?)

eigentlich (actually )

der Motor (engine)

noch (more, still, even)

ein paar (some, a few), Ich habe ein paar Freunde in Berlin und noch ein paar Freunde in Potsdam. (I have a few friends in Berlin and a few more friends in Potsdam.)

deswegen (that's why)

der Mechaniker (mechanic)

der Freund (friend)

die Werkstatt (workshop, garage, repair shop)

Köln (Cologne, a city in Germany)

seit (since, for), Seit 10 Jahren (since 10 years)

schnell (fast)

In the above dialog, we have two sentences that have adjective endings.
1. Das ist doch ein schönes Auto.
2. Danke, und auch ein sehr schnelles Auto.

To understand what's happening with the adjectives "schön" (beautiful) and "schnell" (fast), we have to go through two more topics:
1. Nominative case
2. Adjective endings in the nominative case (subjective case)

A recall of the nominative case

We have already discussed the German sentence structure and the nominative case in lesson 4 (Articles in the Nominative Case).
A case describes the grammatical role a noun or a pronoun plays in a sentence. If a noun or a pronoun is acting as a subject in a sentence, it's in the nominative or subjective case. In German, the subject is called "Nominativ-Ergänzung".

There are some verbs in German that do not take any direct object (intransitive verbs). They only require a subject and a subject complement to complete the sentence. For example, the verb "sein" (to be). A complement is a word or a group of words that completes the sense of a sentence. In German, the complement is called "Qualitativ-Ergänzung".

Verb Qualitative-Ergänzung
Der König ist reich.
The king is rich.
Der Bäcker ist arm.
The baker is poor.

In the above table, both nouns "Der König" and "Der Bäcker" are in the nominative case (subjective case) because they are acting as subjects in these sentences. "Sein" (to be) doesn't take any object, so we need some complements to complete these sentences, and here we have "sehr reich" and "arm" as complements.

Adjective endings after an indefinite article in the nominative case

After an indefinite article (ein or eine) in the nominative case:

  1. the adjective of a masculine noun takes the "-er " ending,
  2. the adjective of a feminine noun takes the "-e " ending,
  3. the adjective of a neuter noun takes the "-es " ending.
  4. There's no plural indefinite article, but we know "kein" declines as an indefinite article, so the adjective of a plural noun takes the "-en " ending.

The simple table below summarizes the adjective endings in the nominative case.

Mas. Fem. Neu. pl.
indefinite article

For example:
fleißig (hardworking)
ein fleißiger Mann (a hardworking man)
ein guter Mann (a good man)
eine fleißige Frau (a hardworking woman)
eine gute Frau (a good woman)
ein fleißiges Mädchen (a hardworking girl), because Mädchen (girl) is neuter noun.
ein gutes Mädchen (a good girl)

Here are some sample sentences featuring adjective endings.
1. Das ist doch ein schönes Auto.
2. Danke, und auch ein sehr schnelles Auto.
Das Auto is a neuter noun. The above table shows that in the nominative case, the adjective of a neuter noun takes the "-es" ending after an indefinite article. That's why we have the "-es" ending in "ein schönes Auto" and "ein sehr schnelles Auto".

Some more examples of nominative adjective endings

Herr Schäfer ist ein guter Mann.
(Mr. Schäfer is good man.)

Adjectives after possessive pronouns (mein, dein, sein, etc.) also decline, similar to indefinite articles.
Er ist mein guter Freund.
(He is my good friend.)

Der Bello ist ein intelligenter Hund.
(Bello is an intelligent dog.) Bello is the name of the dog here.
But if the adjective comes after the noun, it has no ending.
Mein Hund ist sehr intelligent.
(My dog is very intelligent.)
Der Bello ist sehr intelligent.
(Bello is very intelligent.)

Sabine ist ein schönes Mädchen.
(Sabine is a beautiful girl.)
"Das Mädchen" is a neuter noun. In the nominative case (subjective case), any adjective preceding the neuter noun (here "das Mädchen") and succeeding an indefinite article would take the "-es" ending. "Die Frau" is a feminine noun. In similar conditions, an adjective before "die Frau" would take an "-e" ending.

Ihre Mutter ist eine gute Frau.
(Her mother is a good woman.)

Markus ist ein fleißiger Student.
(Markus is a hardworking student.)
Julia ist eine fleißige Studentin.
(Julia is a hardworking (female) student.)
Markus ist fleißig.
(Markus is hardworking.)
Julia ist auch fleißig.
(Julia is also hardworking.)
Beide sind Geschwister und fleißig.
(Both are siblings and hardworking.)

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