I use a variety of online german dictionaries and I am curious about an aspect of the format. With entries that are verbs, the word in question typically has three conjugated examples next to it. It tends to look something like this:

pla·nen (planst, plante, hat geplant) planen VERB (mit OBJ)

The convention seems to be to include the 2nd person present indicative, the first person past tense, and the third person present perfect.

My question is why is this? if someone could give me some insight as to the logic of this convention, I would be immensely grateful.

  • Related question for substantive entries and genitive.
    – guidot
    Aug 2, 2018 at 12:40
  • My printed dictionary has no additional forms for planen, since these are regular, but all mentioned ones by Eller for laufen.
    – guidot
    Aug 2, 2018 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


It gives you complete information about the verb's conjugations.

Planen is not a good example, because it's regular. Let's take laufen (to run):

Laufen: läufst, lief, ist gelaufen.

Based on these three forms you know now all irregularities of the verb:

  • in 2nd and 3rd singular present "-au-" changes to "-äu-" (du läufst, er läuft)
  • in Präteritum (und Konjunktiv II) "-au-" changes to "-ie-" (ich lief, es lief, wir liefen, not ich *laufte, wir *lauften)
  • Partizip II is "gelaufen" (not *gelauft)
  • Perfekt is composed with "sein" and not with "haben" (ich bin gelaufen, not ich habe gelaufen)
  • 1
    All common irregularities. There are verbs which are still a bit more off, as the auxiliaries are or some verbs with two different past participles. But that's noted in the dictionary, too.
    – Janka
    Aug 2, 2018 at 12:35

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