Present Tense of "haben"

This lesson will introduce you to the verb "haben" and how it is used in German. It also explains how the articles (der, die, das, den, ein, eine, einen) are used with regards to the subject and object of a sentence in German. As usual, you have your choice of video or text lesson, or both.

Present Tense of “haben” Introduction

The verb “haben” is the German version of “to have” and is the second most important verb in the German language next to “sein”. While this verb isn’t as irregular as “sein”, it is still slightly odd in its conjugation. Pay special attention to the “du” and “er, sie, es” forms of the verb, which lose the -b from the middle of the word. The rest of the forms are regular. 

haben - to have 

ich habe - I have 

du hast - you have 

er, sie, es hat - he, she, it has 

wir haben - we have 

ihr habt - you have 

sie, Sie haben - they, you have 

“Haben” with Objects

The verb “haben” always requires an object (technically called a “direct object”). The articles are the same as normal with feminine, neuter and plural nouns as objects. 

Ich habe eine Tante. - I have an aunt.

Hast du eine Tochter? - Do you have a daughter?

Meine Mutter hat eine Schwester. - My mother has a sister. 

Wir haben Eltern. - We have parents. 

Habt ihr ein Kind? - Do you have a child? 

Meine Großeltern haben Zwillinge. - My grandparents have twins. 

If the object is a masculine noun, you need “den” for “the” and “einen” for “a” or “an”. 

Ich habe einen Vater. - I have a father. 

Hast du einen Sohn? - Do you have a son?

Mein Bruder hat einen Bruder… ich bin sein Bruder. - My brother has a brother… I am his brother.

Mein Vater hat Geschwister. Sie sind meine Tanten und Onkel. - My father has siblings. They are my aunts and uncles.

Wir haben einen Großvater und eine Großmutter. - We have a grandfather and a grandmother.

Habt ihr einen Neffen? - Do you have a nephew?

Meine Nichten haben einen Bruder. - My nieces have a brother. 

“Haben” with “Schmerzen”

When some parts of your body hurt, you don’t need an article, because these pains (Schmerzen) are plural. 

Ich habe Kopfschmerzen. - I have a headache. 

Du hast Bauchschmerzen. - You have a stomach ache. 

Er hat Halsschmerzen. - He has a sore throat.

Wir haben Zahnschmerzen. - We have a toothache.

“Haben” with “gern”

Add “gern” to the sentence to change “to have” into “to like”. If you like a sport, you don’t need an article.

Ich habe Fußball gern. - I like soccer. 

Hast du Basketball gern? - Do you like basketball? 

Sie hat Baseball gern. - She likes baseball.

Wir haben Tennis gern. - We like tennis. 

Habt ihr Golf gern? - Do you like golf?

Die Kinder haben Handball gern. - The children like handball.

“Gern” with Other Verbs

You can add “gern” with other verbs to change it from the original verb to liking to do that action. Some people add an “E” to the end of “gern”. This does not change the meaning. 

Ich spiele gern Schach. - I like to play chess.

Tanzt du gerne? - Do you like to dance?

Meine Schwester schaukelt gern. - My sister likes to swing.

Wir essen gerne. - We like to eat. 

Arbeitet ihr gern? - Do you like to work? 

Meine Großeltern erzählen gerne Geschichten. - My grandparents like to tell stories. 

Conjugation of “haben” Memory Tricks

If you sing the conjugation of “haben” to the tune of “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy), you can learn and memorize the conjugation a bit easier. You can do this with pretty much any verb that is only 2 syllables.

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