German Language Blog

Tense: Present – Das Präsens Posted by on Jun 8, 2011 in Grammar, Language

Learning tenses of a language can be a thorn in one’s side, but learning these rules is crucial to an effective study, since tenses display essential word orders, which enable you to handle a language more freely.

There is only one present tense form in German and this one corresponds to all three forms that exist in English: simple present, present progressive, and the emphatic present. Here are some examples:

I write / I am writing / I do write = ich schreibe

I speak / I am speaking / I do speak = ich spreche

I dance / I am dancing / I do dance = ich tanze


1. Usage

The present tense is mainly used to

(a) refer to events that are happening at the present time

(b) to describe habitual actions

(c) general statements.


(a) Ich esse einen Apfel. – I am eating an apple.

(b) Ich gehe zur Schule. – I go to school.

(c) Berlin ist die Hauptstadt von Deutschland. – Berlin is the capital of Germany.


Further, you can even use the Präsens to refer to the future. Then the future is simply indicated by the time designation, for example, morgen (tomorrow), später (later), bald (soon), nächste Woche/nächsten Monat/nächstes Jahr (next week/month/year), gleich (right away), in drei Tagen/Wochen (in three days/weeks), etc.

Ich gehe morgen Einkaufen. – I (will) go shopping tomorrow.

Ich komme gleich nach. – I (will) follow right away.

Ich fahre nächste Woche in den Urlaub. – I (will) go on holidays next week.


2. Word order

The word order for Präsens is SPO.

Ich schreibe einen Brief. –  I am writing a letter.

Ich trinke eine Tasse Kaffee. – I am drinking a cup of coffee.

Meine Lieblingsmusik ist Rock und Pop. – My favorite music is rock and pop.

Since there is no separated tense to emphasize the moment of speaking, you can simply add the word “gerade” (meaning here: at the moment) in German in order to make clear that something is taking place at the moment of speaking. For example, “sie arbeitet” does mean both “she works” and “she is working” and becomes “sie arbeitet gerade”.

When a sentence does only consist of a SUBJECT and a PREDIACATE, the word “gerade” is attached at the end. When a phrase consists of a SUBJECT, a PREDICATE, and an OBJECT, then the word “gerade” is inserted between the predicate and the object.

Ich schreibe gerade einen Brief.

Ich trinke gerade eine Tasse Kaffee.


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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