Verbs of Motion: Coming and Going

It's time to start moving around a little more. Let's look at four verbs that are called verbs of motion. They describe how you get from one place to another: gehen (GAY-EN), to go on foot; kommen (KAW-men), to come; fliegen (FLEE-gen), to fly; and fahren (FAHR-en), to drive or to go by transportation.

These verbs are used almost in the same way that their English counterparts are used, except that German tends to be a little more specific. In English we say, “I go to school.” We don't say whether we walk there, drive there, or fly there. In German there's a tendency to specify the means of conveyance: walking, driving, or flying. To learn how to conjugate these verbs, you need to know the term “verb stem.” A verb stem is the part of the infinitive remaining when you drop the final –en: fahren/fahr, gehen/geh, and so on. You add endings to the verb stem to conjugate each verb according to the person and number (singular or plural).

Table 6-3. Conjugational Endings of Verbs

Person Ending to Add to Verb Stem Example First (sing.) –e ich gehe Second (sing.) –st du gehst Third (sing.) –t er, sie, es geht First (pl.) –en wir gehen Second (pl.) –t ihr geht Second formal (sing. or pl.) –en Sie gehen Third (pl.) –en sie gehen

Now let's look at the conjugations of these verbs of motion. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.

Table 6-4. Conjugating Verbs of Motion

Notice that the second person singular and third person singular (du, er, sie, es) add an umlaut in their conjugation of the verb fahren: du fährst, er fährt, sie fährt, es fährt. This is called a stem change. Some other verbs also do this, but they will be addressed later.

With feminine nouns use in die … to say that you're going to or into some place: in die Stadt. With neuter nouns use ins … (the contraction of in das) to say that you're going to some place: ins Kino. With masculine nouns you use in den … : in den Park (into the park).

Let's look at some examples of ways to use these verbs.

Ihr kommt aus Berlin. You all come from Berlin. Wir fliegen nach Hause. We fly home. Er fährt mit dem Bus. He goes (drives) by bus. Ich gehe mit Hans. I go with Hans. Sie fahren mit dem Zug. They are going by train.

The phrase kommen aus is used regularly to tell what city, locale, or country you come from: Ich komme aus Hamburg. Er kommt aus Bayern (Bavaria). Wir kommen aus Amerika.

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