Is there any rule, when to change "ei" into "ie" in past tense sentences ?

I know, one must change it in verbs like : schreiben - schrieben, bleiben-blieben. But there are also words like begleiten - begleiteten and arbeiten - arbeiteten which preserve the "ei" form.

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    The pattern seems to be stress on ie, followed by a voiced sound (b,d,g, h followed by a vowel). But I'm only a native speaker and have never learned this :) (Zeigen seems to an exception, but that had a diphthong already in Old High German appearently...) Commented May 22, 2020 at 14:40
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    I think this is about strong/weak verbs, and you cannot tell whether a verb is strong or weak just by looking at the infinitive. But same here, just some native speaker :)
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 15:05
  • Another interesting case is the verb "Unterscheiden" and the noun "Unterschied"
    – Lycia
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 19:04
  • @phpsgabler the rule does not work for heißen/hieß/geheißen.
    – RHa
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 19:25
  • @RHa /s/ /t/ /t:/ were different phonemes, s < t (eg. *hassen "to hate") might still fit a general rule that could require to distinguish different strata. E.g. Dussel's sibilant isn' t always devoiced.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


This happens with class I strong verbs. But no, there is no simple rule, you have to memorize these verbs (and the other irregular verbs too).

  • OK, thanks for the answer. Commented May 22, 2020 at 17:31
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    I'll add the data based on which I made my guess above: speien - spie, schreien - schrie, schweigen - schwieg, zeihen - zieh, meiden - mied, but: zeigen - zeigte, leiden - litt, reiten - ritt. It's a mess. Commented May 23, 2020 at 11:33

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