Past participles: irregular

The past participle forms of most irregular verbs also begin with ge-. But with many verbs, there is a change in the verb root. The participle form of an irregular verb usually ends in -en.

Infinitive Past participle
fahren ge-fahr-en
fliegen ge-flog-en
singen ge-sung-en
bleiben ge-blieb-en


As you can see, there are few rules for whether and how a root vowel will change. This is why you have to learn the irregular verbs by heart.


Verbs with inseparable prefixes form the past participle without ge-:

Infinitive Past participle
beginnen begonn-en
vergessen vergess-en
verlieren verlor-en


There are a few irregular past participles with special characteristics. You will also have to learn these forms by heart.

Here are a few examples:

Infinitive Past participle
essen ge-gess-en
gehen ge-gang-en
wissen ge-wuss-t
verstehen verstand-en



Grammatical terms in German:
regelmäßig: A grammatical form is regular when it follows a fixed pattern that can be applied to other words.
unregelmäßig: Irregular forms need to be memorized, as there is no universal rule for how to make a particular form from the basic form. Irregular forms are those that are different from most and/or have special characteristics that do not follow the rule.