Sein oder Nichtsein

One of the most common German verbs is sein, equivalent to the English "to be". "sein" is the infinitive or dictionary form; you'll see it less often in practice than the conjugated forms, like ich bin (I am) or du bist (you are).

Like "to be", sein is an irregular verb, meaning it doesn't share a conjugation pattern with other verbs in the language. It just does its own thing there. Fortunately, the different forms all show up so often that you'll come to remember them pretty quickly.


ich bin (I am)

wir sind (we are)

du bist (you are)

ihr seid (you are)

er ist (he is)

sie sind (they are)

sie ist (she is)

Sie sind (you are)

es ist (it is)

Unlike in English, which generally always uses it for inanimate objects, German makes use of the noun gender so that everything has gendered pronouns. er, sie, or es is used for masculine, feminine or neuter nouns respectively.

Fräulein Lindenbaum
Der Planet ist winzig. Er ist eine zerbrechliche, wertvolle Welt.
The planet is tiny. It is a fragile, precious world.
Töskirelon Uferlos Yi
Die Mandel ist lecker. Sie ist eine köstliche Mandel.
The almond is tasty. It is a delicious almond.
Das Meme ist alt. Es ist ein uraltes Meme.
The meme is old. It is an ancient meme.

Note that Sie sind (with the capital S) is special in that it can be both singular or plural (like English you are), and is the polite form used especially when talking with strangers. We'll learn more about it later in patterns on formal/informal language!

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