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German grammar in use: The conjugation of the verb “hören” Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Grammar, Language, Practice, Tense

The German verb “hören” has got three major meanings:

hören

  • The ability to hear
  • The conscious activity to listen (to)
  • To do what an authority commands you: to obey

Additionally, there are several compound verbs with the stem “-hören”, which specify HOW you hear or listen.

  • zuhören – to listen to

The verb “zuhören” is a kind of comparison to “hören”, so to speak. You have to use it in some contexts when you wish to underline that you actively listen to something or someone. Compare the two sentences below.

Ich höre dich. – I (can) hear you.
Ich höre dir zu. – I’m listening to you.

When you wish to make clear that you cannot simply hear somebody but that you are actively listening to that person, you have to use the verb “zuhören” instead of “hören”.
Further compound verbs with “-hören” are:

  • anhören – to hear sb.; to consult sb.
  • abhören – to sound; to intercept; to eavesdrop; to test sb. orally

There is also a compound verb with the stem “-hören”, which has nothing to do with hearing, listening or obeying at all:

  • aufhören – to stop; to quit

When you would like to use any of these compound verbs with the stem “-hören” you always use the conjugation of the core verb or stem verb “hören”. You will see this in the following. Let’s have a closer look at the conjugations of “hören”.

 

1. Präsens – Present tense

The example phrases for the Präsens – the German present tense – are “to listen to music” and “to listen to the radio”. In both case, you simple use the verb “hören” because here it is clear that you consciously listen to something.

Singular Plural
1st person ich höre (zu; ab; an; auf) wir hören
2nd person du hörst – informal
Sie hören – formal
ihr hört – informal
Sie hören – formal
3rd person er/sie/es hört sie hören

1a. Ich höre Musik.
(I listen to music. / I am listening to music.)

1b. Hörst du Radio?
(Do you listen to the radio. / Are you listening to the radio.)

1c. Hören Sie Musik?
(Do you listen to music? / Are you listening to music?)

1d. Wir hören Radio.
(We listen to the radio. / We are listening to the radio.)

1e. Hören sie Radio?
(Do they listen to the radio? / Are they listening to the radio?)

When you would like to use any of the compound verbs from above, you simply have to add the specific morpheme (which is usually also a preposition in German: zu – to; an – at; ab – from; auf – on) to the end of the sentence.

1f. Meine Mutter hört mir immer zu.
(My mother always listens to me.)

1g. Der Arzt hört den Patienten ab.
(The doctor sounds the patient.)

1h. Johannes hört sich das neue Album seiner Lieblingsband an.
(Johannes is listening to the new album of his favorite band.)

1i. Ich höre jetzt mit der Arbeit auf.
(I stop working now.)

 

2. Imperativ – Imperative

When you would like that somebody listens to you, you simply have to give the command “Listen!” in English. In German, however, you must make your point more distinct.

Singular Plural
1st person Höre (zu; ab; an; auf) hören wir
2nd person hör – informal
hören Sie – formal
hört – informal
hören Sie – formal

2a. Hör (mir) zu! – Listen (to me)!

2b. Hör damit auf! – Stop that!

2c. Hören wir (uns an), was er (uns) zu sagen hat. – Let’s listen (ourselves) what he has to tell (us).

And now it’s your turn. I give you some English sentences, which you have to translate into German. Don’t worry, the sentences are of the same type like in 1. All you have to do is to put the same statements into the appropriate tense. Good luck!

 

3. Präteritum – Preterit (equals simple past)

Example sentence: Franka hörte Musik. – Franka listened to music. / Franka hörte mit dem Lesen auf. – Franka stopped reading.

Singular Plural
1st person ich hörte (zu; ab; an; auf) wir hörten
2nd person du hörtest – informal
Sie hörten – formal
ihr hörtet – informal
Sie hörten – formal
3rd person er/sie/es hörte sie hörten

3a. I listened to the radio.
(ich – Radio hören)

3b. I listened to music.
(ich – Musik hören)

3c. I listened to the new album of my favorite band.
(ich – Album anhören – Lieblingsband; my = meiner)

3d. I always listened to you.
(ich – zuhören; you = dir)

3e. I stopped working at 5 p.m.
(ich – mit der Arbeit aufhören; 5p.m. = 17 Uhr)

 

4. Futur I – Future I

When you form sentences in the Futur I tense, you only have to conjugate the auxiliary. That is, the main verbs (hören, zuhören, anhören, abhören, aufhören) are used in their infinite forms.

Example sentence: Franka wird Musik hören. – Franka will listen to music / Franka wird mit dem Rauchen aufhören. – Franka will quit smoking.

Singular Plural
1st person ich werde (zu-)hören wir werden hören
2nd person du wirst hören – informal
Sie werden hören – formal
ihr werdet hören – informal
Sie werden hören – formal
3rd person er/sie/es wird hören sie werden hören

4a. We will listen to the radio.
(wir – Radio hören)

4b. We will listen to music.
(wir – Musik hören)

4c. We will listen to the new album of his favorite band.
(wir – Album anhören – Lieblingsband; his – seiner)

4d. We will always listen to you.
(wir – zuhören; you = dir)

4e. We will stop working at 5 p.m.
(wir – mit der Arbeit aufhören; 5p.m. = 17 Uhr)

 

5. Perfekt – Perfect

Example sentence: Franka hat Musik gehört. – Franka has listened to music. / Franka hat mit dem Rauchen aufgehört. – Franka has quit smoking.

Singular Plural
1st person ich habe gehört wir haben gehört
2nd person du hast gehört – informal
Sie haben gehört – formal
ihr habt gehört – informal
Sie haben gehört – formal
3rd person er/sie/es hat gehört sie haben gehört

5a. You have listened to the radio
(du/Sie/ihr – Radio hören,)

5b. You have listened to music.
(du/Sie/ihr – Musik hören)

5c. You have listened to the new album of your favorite band.
(du/Sie/ihr – Album anhören – Lieblingsband; your – deiner)

5d. You have listened to me.
(du/Sie/ihr – zuhören; me = mir)

5e. You have stopped working.
(du/Sie/ihr – mit der Arbeit aufhören)

 

6. Plusquamperfekt – Pluperfect (equals past perfect)

When you form sentences in the Plusquamperfekt, you have to add the prefix ge- to the core verb “hört”: gehört. When you wish to use any of the compound verbs, the prefix ge- becomes an infix between one of the “prepositional morphemes” and the core verb:

zugehört
abgehört
angehört
aufgehört

Example sentence: Franka hatte Musik gehört. – Franka had listened to music. / Franka hatte mit dem Rauchen aufgehört. – Franka had quitted smoking.

Singular Plural
1st person ich hatte (zu-)gehört wir hatten gehört
2nd person du hattest gehört – informal
Sie hatten gehört – formal
ihr hattet gehört – informal
Sie hatten gehört
– formal
3rd person er/sie/es hatte gehört sie hatten gehört

6a. He had listened to the radio.
(er – Radio hören)

6b. She had listened to music.
(sie – Musik hören)

6c. They had listened to the new album of their favorite band.
(sie – Album anhören – Lieblingsband; their – ihrer)

6d. You had always listen to me.
(du/Sie/ihr – zuhören; me = mir)

6e. He had stopped working.
(er – mit der Arbeit aufhören)

 

7. Futur II – future II

Example sentence: Franka wird Musik gehört haben. – Franka will have listened to music. / Franka wird mit dem Rauchen aufgehört haben. – Franka will have quitted smoking.

Singular Plural
1st person ich werde gehört haben wir werden gehört haben
2nd person du wirst gehört haben – informal
Sie werden gehört haben – formal
ihr werdet gehört haben – informal
Sie werden gehört haben – formal
3rd person er/sie/es wird gehört haben sie werden gehört haben

7a. I will have listened to the radio.
(ich – Radio hören)

7b. You will have listened to music.
(du/Sie/ihr – Musik hören)

7c. He will have listened to the new album of his favorite band.
(er – Album anhören – Lieblingsband; his – seiner)

7d. We will always have listened to you.
(wir – zuhören; you = dir)

7e. We will have stopped working by 5 p.m.
(wir – mit der Arbeit aufhören; 5p.m. = 17 Uhr; by = bis)

 

The key is coming soon …

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


Comments:

  1. ML:

    It sure is complicated 🙂

    I think this translation has a mistake in it:

    1g. Der Arzt hört den Patienten ab. (The doctor sounds the patient.)

    Should it be this?: The doctor listens to the patient.

    • Sandra:

      @ML Hey ML,

      “abhören” is the action a doctor does with a stethoscope. I found the English translation “to sound”. If you have any other suggestion, let me know.

      Regards,
      Sandra

  2. Charity:

    I love these blogs. So terrific. Today I have just one comment:

    Frank had quitted smoking sounds incorrect to me – a native born English speaker. I think we would only say “Frank has quit smoking.”

    • Sandra:

      @Charity Thanks, Charity. You are right! I’ll change that.

      Sandra