4

I'm totally new to the German language, so a question came up to my mind to which I could not find any answer. As far as I know, we say ich weiße in the present tense, then why do we remove the last letter e when we say ich weiß nicht?

  • 9
    It is not ich weiße (except if you want to say I whiten.) – Carsten S May 28 '17 at 11:55
  • 1
    What you might have heard was something like "Ich weise den Weg" - "I show/point at the way" or "Das weise ich zurück" - "I refuse/disclaim/reject that" – Tobias Kienzler Sep 26 '17 at 11:09
10

»I know« translates to »ich weiß«, but we have the verb

weißen = mit weißer Tünche anstreichen (to whitewash)

and here

ich weiße = ich streiche mit weißer Tünche an (I'm whitewashing)

is correct.

Also valid:

Ich Weiße habe unter Schwarzen nie Probleme.
(I as a white woman never have problems among black people.)

  • so then what is the Infinitiv form of the ich weiß ? that is what had led me to this misunderstanding, and Thank you – 5313M May 28 '17 at 12:04
  • 6
    I think I've already found that , wissen , – 5313M May 28 '17 at 12:07
  • 2
    "Wissen" belongs to a class of verbs called "preterie-presents". This means that the present form once used to be a preterite. The preterite of a strong verb does not have a -e ending (Compare Ich gehe/ich ging). This explains the lacking -e ending."Wissen" stems from an indo-european root meaning "to see". "Ich weiß" originates from a verb form that meant "I saw/I have seen". (Compare to latin videre "to see") – RHa May 29 '17 at 8:51
8

You are talking about two different verbs:

weißen

in English: to white, to whiten, to blanch (something)

Ich weiße. Du weißt. Er weißt. Wir weißen. Ihr weißt. Sie weißen.
I whiten. You whiten. He whitens. We whiten. You whiten. They whiten.

Negation:

Ich weiße nicht. Du weißt nicht. ...
I don't whiten. You don't whiten. ...

This word is derived in both languages, German and English, from the color white/Weiß, which has the same Indo-European root with the meaning »bright, shining«.


wissen

in English: to know

Ich weiß. Du weißt. Er weiß. Wir wissen. Ihr wisst. Sie wissen.
I know. You know. He knows. We know. You know. They know.

Negation:

Ich weiß nicht. Du weißt nicht.
I don't know. You don't know.

The German verb wissen derives from the same Indo-European root like the English adjective visual: Something you can see.

The English verb to know has a root with the original meaning "perceive a thing to be identical with another".


Both German verbs (weißen and wissen) are equal only for 2nd Person singular (Du weißt). But since their meaning is so different, it's very hard to imagine any context where it is unclear which one is meant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.