I'm at the stage of learning past participles, and I wanted to know if there's any advantage to knowing English past participles when it comes to forming them in German. I refer specifically to English and German cognates, having seen that sometimes they undergo similar stem changes. An example would be bringen. Without knowing the stem change, is it possible to infer from the stem change in English, i.e. bring -> brought, that the past participle is gebracht? Or, to put it more mildly, is it possible to infer that a verb is irregular, and that its past participle will undergo a stem change, when the same thing happens in an English cognate?


Sure, a lot of the cognates inflect similarly. This isn't surprising, since as languages go, German and English are very close indeed (they're both West Germanic Indo-European languages).

But it only works a lot of the time, not all the time. Depending on what you want to achieve in speaking German, it might be better to simply bite the bullet and learn the hundred-odd important irregular verbs by rote, and not have to rely on an imperfect guideline.

  • Indeed. Especiall when you want to use the language fluently the right verb forms have to come to your mind automaticall, without a detour through English similar ones. Just learn them, and use them. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 4 '17 at 7:45

I would try to blend Killian's advice with the more traditional method of trying to relate English to German.

That is, I would learn the German forms first, which is what I'm doing now. After I have some mastery, then I would look up the English versions to make equivalents that will allow me to "tie down" what I know. But if you try to "translate" English to German (as I did the first time around), it's easy to end up making mistakes.

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.