The quizzes below provide practice with conjugating essential verbs, mastering regular conjugation, tackling the vowel-changing verbs, using the modal verbs, and finally, constructing four types of sentences.
The vowel-changing verbs in German remind me of children who misbehave, but only at certain predictable times, like toddlers who always throw a tantrum at the supermarket checkout.
If you focus on when these verbs fail to follow the normal rules, you will be able to use them with ease.
These verbs only “break the rules” in the second and third person singular. Otherwise they are utterly regular, predictable and conformist. They retainthe normal endings for regular German verbs; they just have that little vowel mutation in their stem in the second and third person singular.
In English we have a couple of verbs that act like this too. For instance, “I say” becomes “he says” (sez); “I do” becomes “she does” (duz).
Below is a short list of some common verbs that are affected by this little quirk, along with a quiz that will help you to tame them.
Vowel Change: a becomes ä in…
tragen – to wear, to carry (du trägst, er/sie/es trägt)
fahren – to drive, to travel (du fährst, er/sie/es fährt)
schlafen – to sleep, (du schläfst, er/sie/es schläft)
Vowel Change: e becomes ie in…
sehen – to see (du siehst, er/sie sieht)
lesen – to read (du liest, er/sie liest)
Vowel Change: e becomes i in…
nehmen – to take (du nimmst, er/sie nimmt)
helfen – to help (du hilfst, er/sie hilft)
essen – to eat (du isst, er/sie isst)
sprechen – to speak (du sprichst, er/sie spricht)
For a longer list of the most useful stem-changing verbs, go to this German website. In German, the term for these verbs is Verben mit Vokalwechsel.