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The German Verb Haben – To Have (4 Tenses) Posted by on May 20, 2020 in Grammar, Language

Guten Tag! If you’re a fairly new German learner, this post will benefit you as it covers one of the basics of the language. If you’re not new to the language, it’s still a good idea to revisit the basics from time to time! Today we’re looking at the verb haben (to have) and its conjugations in the present, future, and 2 types of past tense. For a post on the verb sein, click here.

haben – to have

Hast du Zeit? – Do you have time? Image via pixabay

First off, here is the verb in the present tense.

haben – present tense

ich habe – I have
du hast – you have (informal; addressing one person only)
er/sie/es hat – he/she/it has
wir haben – we have
ihr habt – you have (addressing more than one person)
sie haben – they have
Sie haben – you have (formal)

Like I said in the post on sein, note the difference between sie haben (they have) and Sie haben (you have – formal). The way you can tell in writing if it’s a group being addressed, or one person being addressed in the formal way, is by the capital letter S on Sie. This S will always be capitalised when using the formal ‘you’, but not for the word ‘sie’ (they). However, if it’s at the beginning of a sentence, then the word Sie will of course always be capitalised! In this case, you can figure it out based on its context. We have a few blog posts on the use of the formal and informal ‘you’, which you can find here, here and here.

The verb in action:

Du hast Zeit
You have time

Wir haben Zeit
We have time

haben – past tense

There are two past tenses in German, one being the simple past tense (Imperfekt) and the other being the present perfect tense (Perfekt).

haben – simple past tense

The simple past tense is used to describe an event that started and ended in the past, and no longer has a link to the present. It describes one, specific event, rather than a regular event. For this reason it is mainly used in written German, in things like newspaper articles, stories and reports.

ich hatte – I had
du hattest – you had (informal; addressing one person only)
er/sie/es hatte – he/she/it had
wir hatten – we had
ihr hattet – you had (addressing more than one person)
sie hatten – they had
Sie hatten – you had (formal)

The verb in action:

Er hatte Zeit
He had time

Ich hatte Zeit
I had time

haben – present perfect tense

This tense is used to describe regular events in the past – something which you have done, and do regularly, or might do again. It begins with the present tense conjugation (‘ich habe’), but adds ‘gehabt’ to make it past tense. When using this tense, the word ‘gehabt’ goes to the end of the sentence.

ich habe gehabt – I had/have had
du hast gehabt – you had/have had (informal; addressing one person only)
er/sie/es hat gehabt – he/she/it had/has had
wir haben gehabt – we had/have had
ihr habt gehabt – you had/have had (addressing more than one person)
sie haben gehabt – they had/have had
Sie haben gehabt – you had/have had (formal)

The verb in action:

sie haben Zeit gehabt
They had time

sie hat Zeit gehabt
she had time

haben – future tense

The future tense pairs with the helper verb werden – to become. Like before, the ‘haben’ part goes to the end of the sentence.

ich werde haben – I will have
du wirst haben – you will have (informal; addressing one person only)
er/sie/es wird haben – he/she/it will have
wir werden haben – we will have
ihr werdet haben – you will have (addressing more than one person)
sie werden haben – they will have
Sie werden haben – you will have (formal)

The verb in action:

Ihr werdet Zeit haben
You will (all) have time

Er wird Zeit haben
He will have time

To finish, an exercise! See if you can translate the following sentences. The answers are below the newsletter box. Viel Glück (good luck)!

1/ Ich habe Zeit
2/ du hast Zeit
3/ wir haben Zeit
4/ Sie haben Zeit
5/ du hattest Zeit
6/ wir hatten Zeit
7/ er hat Zeit gehabt
8/ ihr habt Zeit gehabt
9/ ich habe Zeit gehabt
10/ ich werde Zeit haben
11/ sie werden Zeit haben
12/ sie wird Zeit haben
13/ du wirst Zeit haben

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1/ I have time
2/ You have time (informal; one person)
3/ We have time
4/ You have time (formal)
5/ You had time (informal; one person)
6/ We had time
7/ He had time
8/ You (all) had time (addressing more than one person)
9/ I had time
10/ I will have time
11/ they will have time
12/ she will have time
13/ you will have time (informal; one person)

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor and am training to be a personal trainer.


  1. prakash:

    Liebe Constanze
    Iam praksah from india ,learning Deutsch with my own effort : I understand fundamentals well now slowly advancing further to reach my desire to write something in Deutsch series : ich finde deutsch ist sher interessant , amuzing and not like English. Suppose you ask me “what is my real interest in lerning in Deutsch?” I say I want to write and i want to become a author in Deutsch
    Thank you for your mail .Always like to have friendship with you and sharing ideas
    with regards