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The Verb "To Do" in German - A2/B1

Updated on April 4, 2015

The verb "machen"

Verbs are doubtlessly one of the most important things you need to study when attempting to become fluent in German. You cannot make a proper sentence without a verb. That is why I tend to start working on verbs with my beginner students before we move on to anything else. In German there are regular verbs (schwache Verben) and irregular verbs (starke Verben).

In order to be able to communicate on an intermediate level in German, you need to study verbs in the two most important German tenses: Present Tense (Präsens) and Perfect Tense (Perfekt). Obviously, there are other tenses you need to know like the Preterite Tense (Präteritum), which is mostly used in written German and the Future Tense. But in the oral language, you mostly use the Present and Perfect Tense. You can also make future sentences by using adverbs like tomorrow, yesterday, next week (morgen, gestern, nächste Woche). That is why I think it is crucial to start learning the Present Tense and the Perfect Tense first, in order to be able to communicate on an intermediate level.

Let’s start by looking at some common expressions using the verb "to do" (machen) in German.

Conjugation of The Verb "To Do" in German

Present Tense
Perfect Tense
ich mache
ich habe gemacht
du machst
du hast gemacht
er, sie, es macht
er, sie, es hat gemacht
wir machen
wir haben gemacht
ihr macht
ihr habt gemacht
sie, Sie machen
sie, Sie haben gemacht
  • sauber machen - to clean

Present: Ich mache sauber – I am cleaning (literally: I make clean)

Past: Ich habe sauber gemacht – I cleaned (literally: I have clean made)

  • Spaß machen - to be fun

Present: Das macht Spaß – This is fun (literally: This makes fun)

Past: Das hat Spaß gemacht – This was fun (literally: This has fun made)

  • Fortschritte machen - to make progress

Present: Ich mache Fortschritte – I am making progress (literally: I make progresses)

Past: Ich habe Fortschritte gemacht – I made progress (literally: I have progresses made)

  • Schlagzeilen machen - to make headlines

Present: Die Firma macht Schlagzeilen – The company makes headlines

Past: Die Firma hat Schlagzeilen gemacht – The company made headlines (literally: The company has headlines made)

  • Ärger machen - to act up

Present: Das Kind macht Ärger – The child is acting up (literally: The child makes trouble)

Past: Das Kind hat Ärger gemacht – The child acted up (literally: The child has trouble made)

  • Besorgungen machen - to run errands

Present: Er macht heute Besorgungen – He is running errands today (literally: He makes today errands)

Past: Er hat heute Besorgungen gemacht – He ran errands today (literally: He has today errands made)

  • Feierabend machen - to call it a day

Present: Ich mache jetzt Feierabend – I am calling it a day now (literally: I make now end of work)

Past: Ich habe Feierabend gemacht – I called it a day (literally: I have end of work made)

  • Karriere machen - to climb the career ladder

Present: Meine Frau macht Karriere – My wife is climbing the career ladder

Past: Meine Frau hat Karriere gemacht – My wife climbed the career ladder (literally: My wife has career made)

Meine Frau kommt jeden Abend spät nach Hause. Sie hat seit Januar eine gute Stelle und kann nun Karriere machen. Die Firma, in der sie arbeitet, macht häufig positive Schlagzeilen. Ich habe mein Hobby zum Beruf gemacht. Ich arbeite halbtags als Softwareentwickler. Um 14 Uhr mache ich Feierabend. Wenn ich um halb drei nach Hause komme, mache ich das Haus sauber. Um 16 Uhr hole ich unseren Sohn von der Schule ab. Letzte Woche hat er in der Klasse Ärger gemacht und musste nachsitzen. Am Wochenende mache ich Besorgungen, während meine Frau auf unsere jüngste Tochter aufpasst. Ich lerne seit ein paar Wochen Deutsch und ich habe schon viele Fortschritte gemacht. Deutsch lernen macht Spaß.

My wife comes home late every night. Since January, she has a good position and can climb up the career ladder now. The company, in which she works, often makes positive headlines. I turned my hobby into a career. I work part-time as a software developer. At 2pm, I call it a day. When I come home at 2:30pm, I clean the house. At 4pm, I pick up our son from school. Last week he acted up in class and was put in detention. On the weekend, I run errands while my wife watches our youngest daughter. I have been learning German for a couple of weeks and I have already made a lot of progress. Learning German is fun.

Fill In the Blanks!

  1. Er _________ _________ (Karriere machen, Present Tense) , weil er viel Geld verdienen will. Er träumt von einer großen Villa, vielen Autos und mehreren Urlauben pro Jahr.
  2. Die Firma _________ wieder negative _________ _________ (Schlagzeilen machen, Perfect Tense). Sie verschmutzt Seen und Flüsse, beutet die Mitarbeiter aus und denkt nur daran, Gewinn zu erzielen.
  3. Tennis spielen _________ _________ (Spaß machen, Present Tense). Ich spiele bereits seit sechs Jahren in einem Tennisverein.
  4. Ich bin total kaputt. Ich _________ jetzt _________. (Feierabend machen, Present Tense).
  5. Diese Kinder dort drüben sind total ungezogen. Sie spielen mit Stöcken und Steinen. Sie _________ immer _________. (Ärger machen, Present Tense)
  6. Als meine Kinder gestern auf einem Kindergeburtstag waren, habe ich in der Stadt _________ _________. (Besorgungen machen, Perfect Tense)
  7. Sie lernt seit ein paar Monaten Klavier und _________ schon viele Fortschritte _________. (Fortschritte machen, Perfect Tense)
  8. Es gibt Blogger, die sehr viel Geld verdienen. Das Schreiben _________ ihnen _________ (Spaß machen, Present Tense) und sie haben _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ . (sein Hobby zum Beruf machen, Perfect Tense)


  • verdienen - to earn
  • eine Villa - a mansion
  • der Urlaub - vacation
  • das Jahr - the year
  • die Firma - the company
  • verschmutzen - to pollute
  • Seen und Flüsse - lakes and rivers
  • ausbeuten - to exploit
  • Gewinn erzielen - to make a profit
  • der Tennisverein - the tennis club
  • total kaputt - totally beat-up
  • ungezogen - naughty
  • Stöcke und Steine - sticks and stones
  • der Kindergeburtstag - children's birthday party
  • die Stadt - the city
  • Klavier - piano
  • der Beruf - the profession


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    • profile image

      Simon 2 years ago

      Guys just sharing, I've found this interesting! Check it out!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks for this German lesson, Jennifer. It's very useful to learn another language to widen our horizons, even if we're not traveling. Voted up!

    • Jennifer Madison profile image

      Jennifer Madison 3 years ago from Lohmar

      True and I am not saying that students shouldn't learn the future tense in German. To start off, present and perfect tense keeps them busy for a while and they can express many things.

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I don't follow abstraction in my work, either. Students were actually faster making progress than with other methods. The present can be used for future reference in many languages. Future forms are good for own decision making.

    • Jennifer Madison profile image

      Jennifer Madison 3 years ago from Lohmar

      Thanks for your comment Teresa. You can say things in the future by using adverbs like "gestern", "nächste Woche" or "am Nachmittag" in German. You don't need to use the future tense for that. By the way, it is very common to do that in German. Most people would say: "Morgen fahre ich in die Stadt", instead of "Morgen werde ich in die Stadt fahren". So in that sense German is very different from say English, where "will" and "would" are used much more frequently. I would even predict that "werden" will disappear at some point in the future because the sentences are just too long. There were several spelling reforms in Germany with the purpose of making the language simpler. I think this happens in a lot of languages. In Latvian, there is a case (doesn't exist in English) which is disappearing. The same applies to "Passé Simple" in French which is only used in literature now but not in spoken language. My goal is to teach my students the language that is actually spoken, not the language that exists in theory but that no one uses. Language evolves.

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I'm definitely not fluent in German, but I think I could re-learn If I would, I'd be thinking the tense paradigm. I mean, also as kids, people do not learn just select forms. You wouldn't have a kid to know how to say things in the present or past only, without ever thinking how to say things in future forms. Feel welcome to compare my Language grammar, for English. It's with my Hub profile, I can't give the link over the mobile.