I have a German examination in two weeks, which includes two comprehensions of about CEFR-B1 level. (An example of this exam from 2012 can be found here.)

I have worked up to over 2000 of the most frequent German words using a word frequency list, and I have also done over 2000 of the topic-related vocabulary that comes up in the exam. This includes infinitives of all the verbs that would come up in either list.

The problem is: I've just realised that there are a lot of irregular forms of the Präteritum that I don't recognise. This makes it difficult, since the Präteritum is used quite frequently in these comprehensions, and many of them are irregular. I haven't had much luck finding a list of the most common irregular verbs, and I want to use my time wisely. I have been given a list of over 100 irregular verbs and their Präteritum forms, but they are in alphabetical order and this is really unhelpful.

I am wondering if anyone has a list of the top thirty or so most-common irregular verbs, along with their Präteritum form? Or, does anyone have any other suggestions as to how to get around this problem? You may be able to gauge if you take a quick glance at the comprehensions in the example above.

Also: it occurred to me that the most common irregular verbs may not also have the most commonly used Präteritum forms.


  • 3
    Maybe you can come up with your own ranking. Take each of the 100 3rd-person preterite forms, add the pronoun "er", throw each one ("er kam", "er ging", "er fand") at google, write down the number of search results, and rank accordingly.
    – elena
    May 27, 2013 at 15:32
  • @elena That's a pretty good suggestion, and that's what I've just done. I was kind of hoping there would be some intelligent suggestion that wasn't as laborious, but I guess not! Thanks. May 27, 2013 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


Well, if the suggestion of elena is OK for you, I would recommend to use the Wortschatz-Portal der Uni Leipzig.

Wort: kam
Anzahl: 150853
Häufigkeitsklasse: 6 (d.h. der ist ca. 2^6 mal häufiger als das gesuchte Wort)

Wort: ging
Anzahl: 108980
Häufigkeitsklasse: 7 (d.h. der ist ca. 2^7 mal häufiger als das gesuchte Wort)

  • I really would have preferred to use that portal. But I've already used Google to do it. While I would have preferred the better source, I don't think it's a huge issue, do you? As in, I just wanted to spend my time on the most common ones. I will probably get them all done in the time, but I wanted to have the more likely ones known so I could be most familiar with them. I have the list pasted up: link, in the Google search-frequency order. Would you be able to take a quick glance to ensure it covers all the bases and looks about right? Thanks. May 27, 2013 at 22:18
  • @EdmundHeaphy I wouldn't say that this list is completely wrong but I'm pretty sure that your results are still not good enough to rely on those. Have another look at "er litt". Don't look at the number but at the actual results. I'm pretty sure the ranking of leiden is far too high. Anyway, I don't think that for your use case the actual ranking is that important. You covered a lot of common words. I can't tell if you missed any.
    – Em1
    May 28, 2013 at 6:56
  • Hmmmmm. I had a look at the results for "er litt", and they doesn't seem different to any of the other examples. Put it this way: are the top thirty or so all fairly common? And are there any way down the list that should be up the top? More importantly: are there any very common examples that aren't on the list at all? If not, then I think you are right that for my use case I think I should be fine. Thank you for your help, it's really appreciated. May 28, 2013 at 15:34

Conjugations of the Most-Used German Verbs lists the 20 most common verbs with their most common forms and some example sentences. Each of these verbs is irregular, but the list is too short.

Top 100 German verbs lists the 100 most common verbs but without conjugated forms. However, there are many places where you can find the forms of the irregular verbs in that list, e.g. List of irregular (strong) German verbs.

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