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The auxiliary verb "sein" in German

Quote:
"Sein oder nicht sein, das ist hier die Frage"
To be or not to be, that is the question
(William Shakespeare in Hamlet)
sein

Meaning

"Sein" means "to be" and is a very important verb in German, given that it is one of the three auxiliary verbs (Hilfsverben) together with haben and werden that exist in German.

Auxiliary Verb

"Sein" is used together with haben as an auxiliary verb. Its tenses:

  • Futur II

    Er wird wohl im Urlaub gewesen sein
    He probably is on vacation

  • Perfekt

    Sie ist am Montag gekommen
    She came on Monday

  • Plusquamperfekt

    Sie hat gedacht er war schon angekommen
    She thought that he had arrived already

Visit this link if you want to know when to use sein as an auxiliary.

"Sein" also is used as an auxiliary in one type of passive, Das Zustandspassiv

Das Spiel ist gewonnen
The game is won

Copulative Verb

The verb "sein" together with the verbs bleiben and werden are copulative. This means that clauses are formed with two nominatives:

Er ist ein Herr
He is a master

"Er" and "ein Herr" are declined in the nominative.

The Conjugation of the verb "sein"

Sein is irregular which is why its conjugation must be learned.

Verb3rd PersonPräteritumPartizip IIMeaning
seinistwargewesento be

Present simple (Präsens Indikativ)

ConjugationMeaning
ich binI am
du bistyou are
er ist
sie ist
es ist
he is
she is
it is
wir sindwe are
ihr seidyou are
sie sindthey are

Examples:

Ich bin elf Jahre alt
I am eleven years old

Wie ist dein Name?
What is your name?

Ich bin Frank
I am Frank

Was sind Sie von Beruf?
What’s your profession?

Ich bin Kellnerin
I’m a waitress

Es ist zwei Uhr
It’s two o’clock

Wir sind zufrieden
We are content

Es kann nicht sein
It can’t be

More information about Present tense.

Subjunctive I (Konjunktiv I)

The Konjunktiv I is used for indirect speech.

Conjugation
ich sei
du seist
du seiest
er sei
sie sei
es sei
wir seien
ihr seiet
sie seien

Martina sagt, sie sei schwanger
Martina says that she’s pregnant

Präteritum

ConjugationMeaning
ich warI was
du warstyou were
er war
sie war
es war
he was
she was
it was
wir warenwe were
ihr wartyou were
sie warenthey were

Maria war Lehrerin
Maria was a teacher

More information about Präteritum

Konjunktiv II

Conjugation
ich wäre
du wärst
du wärest
er/sie/es wäre
wir wären
ihr wärt
ihr wäret
sie wären

Ich wäre froh, wenn ich eine Wohnung hätte
I would be happy if I had an apartment

More information about Konjunktiv II

Imperative (Imperativ)

ImperativMeaning
2nd Person Singularseibe
2nd Person Pluralseidbe

More information about imperative

Participle

ParticipleConjugation
Partizip Iseiend (being)
Partizip IIgewesen (been)

More information about Partizip

Auxiliary verb (Hilfsverb)

sein

Construction: "Sein" + "zu"

Construction "sein + zu" has the meaning of "to have to" and its behavior is similar to that of a modal verb.

Was ist zu tun?
What is to be done?

Audiovisual Suplement

To conclude: A beautiful song from the Disney movie Anastasia “Once upon December”




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