Why does the second and third person singular and second person plural of bekommen not follow the convention of adding an -e- before the personal endings in the Simple Present tense?

Does it have to do with indicative vs. subjunctive mood?

  • 1
    What you say makes sense, Robert. My reference material is Schaum's Outline 5th edition. In it it states that verbs with an infinitive stem ending in -m need an -e- added before the above mentioned forms.
    – Blamettu
    May 25, 2016 at 2:08
  • @Robert please turn that into an answer. Comments are not guaranteed to live forever and will eventually be cleaned up. May 25, 2016 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


The rule that is given in Schaum's Outline for the simple present tense (indicative) is written in a somewhat confusing way. It should be read

When an infinitive stem ends in -m or -n preceded by a consonant other than "l", "r", "m", "n", or "h", or if it ends in -d or -t, then -e- is added.

That means, the rule does not apply to verbs like kommen, leimen, qualmen, wärmen, lahmen, because the additional consonant is missing. The fact that kommen is a strong verb is not relevant here; the weak verb kämmen behaves in the same way.

In fact, I can only think of one common verb with an infinitive stem ending in -m where the rule does apply, namely atmen. For -n, there are more.

In the subjunctive present, the endings are always -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en (except for "sein"). They do not depend on the final consonant of the stem.

  • The rule you mentioned above applies to the Simple Present, right? In Barron's 501 German Verbs, it seems as though the Subjunctive Primary Present Time conjugation follows the confusing Schaum's rule wherein the personal endings in second and third person singular and second person plural have the -e- added. The only exception is third person singular which reads as bekomme and not bekommet. I'm not sure that Schaum's covers a rule for that tense.
    – Blamettu
    May 25, 2016 at 13:35
  • @Blamettu In the subjunctive present, the endings are always -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en (except for "sein"). They do not depend on the final consonant of the stem.
    – Uwe
    May 25, 2016 at 14:58

Bekommen is not a regular verb.

Regular verbs with a stem ending with -m (also with t; d; or n) add an extra e for the 2nd. and 3rd. person singular and 2nd. person plural.

The following verbs belong in that group:

antworten; arbeiten; atmen; begegnen; beobachten; bilden; bitten; finden; gründen; heiraten; mieten; öffnen; rechnen; reden; retten; trocknen; warten; zeichnen

The verbs with endings -lm; -ln and -rn are exceptions to this rule: e.g. lernen and qualmen

  • @user21137 The rule applies to stems ending in -m only if there is a consonant other than "l", "r", "m", or "h" in front of it, which means that "atmen" seems to be the only verb where is does apply. It has nothing to do with regularity.
    – Uwe
    May 25, 2016 at 12:23

Why should there be an extra 'e'?

  • Er/sie/es bekommt, ihr bekommt.
  • Er/sie/es tanzt, ihr tanzt.
  • Er/sie/es lacht, ihr lacht.
  • Er/sie/es spricht, ihr sprecht.

An 'e' is inserted in e.g., reden (er/sie/es redet, ihr redet) because you cannot pronounce "redt" well.

In old forms of German (or when people want to impress you on the Mittelaltermarkt) you may find an 'e' where nowadays none is inserted: 'saget doch' vs 'sagt doch', 'nehmet' vs 'nehmt'.

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