‘Fahren’ Conjugations

‘Fahren’ conjugations translate to ‘I drive / drove / will drive, etc.’ The infinitive verb ‘fahren’ (‘to drive’ in English) is one of the very first German verbs you should learn.

‘Fahren’ is a common German verb that you’ll need to use in various tenses and moods in order to communicate in everyday spoken & written German.

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‘Fahren’ Conjugations
Written by Laura Bennett
-   Updated:
- 12 minute read
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Learning ‘fahren’ is tricky because German verbs have more conjugation options compared to English verbs –so there’s more that our brains have to remember!

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Fahren’ (‘to drive’) is a commonly used infinitive verb in German.
  • there are more ‘fahren’ conjugation options than what we have in English.
  • you need to learn ‘fahren’ conjugations for multiple tenses and moods.

How is ‘Fahren’ Used in German?

Knowing how to correctly use ‘fahren’ in its many diverse forms allows you to speak masterfully in German in a wide variety of contexts.

‘Fahren’ allows you to talk about yourself and others ‘driving’ (I drive to work/ She drove too fast, etc.) in all manner of situations past, present, future, and hypothetical. 

You’ll use ‘fahren’ in order to …

  • ✅ Talk about what / how / when / etc. someone is driving.
  • ✅ Utilize certain idioms and other common figures of speech.
  • ✅ Say that someone drives, drove will have driven, will drive, etc.

What Are The 6 Conjugations of ‘Fahren’? 

The 6 conjugations of ‘fahren’ in the present tense line up with our 6 subject pronouns to give us ‘ich fahre’, ‘du fährst’, ‘er / sie / es fährt’, ‘wir fahren’, ‘ihr fahrt, and ‘sie fahren.’

There are, of course, even more forms of ‘fahren’ in other tenses (and moods). 

But it’s best to first focus strictly on the present tense conjugations of ‘Fahren’, so let’s look at it side-by-side with the English ‘to drive’:

‘Fahren’ (in English)

I drive
you drive
he/she/it drives
we drive
they drive

‘Fahren’ in German is ‘to drive’ in English. And in the present tense, we have two possible conjugations: ‘drive’, and ‘drives’.

In the case of ‘drive’, it is recycled –that is, it’s used with multiple different pronouns (i.e. I, you, we, they). It’s only he/she/it that uses its own unique conjugation ‘drives’.

Those same conjugations in German look like this:

‘Fahren’ (Present Tense) English vs German

Fahren Conjugation English vs. German in the Present Tense

Comparing German & English

It’s important to notice the patterns of similarities and differences at this point. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where does German ‘recycle’ the same conjugations?
  • Are the German & English changes to ‘fahren’ (to drive) occurring with equivalent pronouns?
  • Which language includes more changes compared to the other? 

‘Fahren’ in the Present Tense

The present tense conjugations of ‘fahren’ are ich fahre, du fährst, er / sie / es fährt, wir fahren, ihr fahrt, and sie fahren.

Put into a typical conjugation table, these options are presented like this:

Present Tense Conjugation Chart:
ich fahrewir fahren
du fährstihr fahrt
er/sie/es fahrensie fahren

You truly haven’t even begun to learn ‘fahren’ until you know ALL the nominative case pronouns and which form of ‘fahren’ each of them takes.

To talk about the conjugations of ‘fahren’ used by the various pronouns, we have to work backward by starting with the pronouns

And in order to understand nominative case (i.e. subject) pronouns, we need to talk about the grammar concept of ‘persons’.

What are ‘persons’?

The ‘persons’ (I, you, they, etc.) are split into two categories that interact with each other: 

There are 3 subcategories of ‘persons’ (1st Person, 2nd Person, and 3rd Person) and each of these has a ‘singular’ and a ‘plural’ variant. 

When we intersect this information on Y and X axes, we get these ultra-familiar English subject pronouns:

English Subject Pronouns Chart

Now, here is the German version of the same table of subject pronouns: 

German Subject Pronouns Chart

German & English Pronouns Side-by-Side

Where do English and German line up and where are there differences?

English and German have 1-to-1 equivalents for all pronouns … except that German has extra pronouns for ‘you’ (highlighted).

FULL German Subject Pronouns Chart
2nd (informal)duihr

Understanding the ‘ihr’ plural of ‘du’ is straightforward enough: Americans might relate it to the concept of y’all. We’re simply talking to multiple ‘you’s at the same time.

But what is the deal with the singular and plural ‘Sie’?

Formal vs. Informal ‘You’

If you took high school Spanish, you’ve already been exposed to the idea of ‘you’ having an informal version and a formal version (e.g. ‘tu’ [informal] and ‘Usted’ [formal]).

It’s the exact same idea in German.

We need to use the formal ‘you’ when we address …

  • someone we don’t intimately know 
  • someone to whom we want to show additional respect
  • someone in a relative position of authority 

Of course, these separate categories have some obvious potential overlaps in that many times we perceive others as authority figures whom we also genuinely respect and with whom we wouldn’t go out to a pub for a beer because we don’t know them intimately enough.

When to Use the Formal ‘Sie’

As you can see in the table, if you’re using the formal address ‘Sie’, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking to one person or multiple –the pronoun AND its conjugation of ‘fahren’ stays the same:

German Subject Pronoun & ‘Fahren’ Conjugations Chart:
1stich binwir sind
2nd (informal)du bistihr seid
(formal)Sie sindSie sind
3rder/sie/es istsie sind

In German, you generally need to use this formal version of ‘you’ if you’re talking with…

  • professionals (e.g. clerks, police officers, doctors, plumbers, etc.) 
  • leaders (e.g. priests, politicians, choir directors, bosses, etc.)
  • elders (e.g. anyone clearly at least a generation older than you are)

Examples of ‘Fahren’

Knowing how to use ‘fahren’ in the present tense for all the 1st, 2nd (formal and informal) and 3rd persons, singular and plural, is exactly what you should know for now. 

1st Person, Singular & Plural

Ich fahre Fahrrad. (I am riding a bike.)
Ich fahre in den Urlaub. (I am going on vacation.)

Wir fahren Fahrrad. (We are riding a bike.)
Wir fahren in den Urlaub. (We are going on vacation.)

2nd Person (Informal), Singular & Plural

Du fährst Fahrrad. (You are riding a bike.)
Du fährst in den Urlaub. (You are going on vacation.)

Ihr fahrt Fahrrad. (You are riding a bike.)
Ihr fahrt in den Urlaub. (You are going on vacation.)

2nd Person (Formal), Singular & Plural

Sie fahren Fahrrad. (You are riding a bike.)
Sie fahren in den Urlaub. (You are going on vacation.)

Sie fahren Fahrrad. (You are riding a bike.)
Sie fahren in den Urlaub. (You are going on vacation.)

3rd Person, Singular & Plural

Der Athlet fährt Fahrrad. (The athlete is riding a bike.)
Der Athlet fährt in den Urlaub. (The athlete is going on vacation.)

Die Athleten fahren Fahrrad. (The athletes are riding a bike.)
Die Athleten fahren in den Urlaub. (The athletes are going on vacation.)


Learning all of this is a big task for almost every German learner.

I’ll teach you step-by-step.

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Comparing German & English

There are several interesting points to make on the above examples so that you can further your general knowledge of German beyond specifics of ‘fahren’.

  • Almost every English noun pluralizes simply with ‘s’ (e.g. athlete[s]), but German has SEVEN different options that we have to know how to choose between! You may have noticed specifically the -en plural at play in ‘Athlet’ -> ‘Athleten’. Learn more about German noun plurals here.
  • Did you notice that, in German, we don’t say ‘riding A bike’ but simply ‘riding bike’? Small differences such as this are crucial to learn in order to speak authentic German.
  • In a similar vein, notice that in German the phrase is ‘going IN THE vacation’, if you will. Prepositions (e.g. ‘in’ vs. ‘on’) are notoriously difficult to master because you can’t simply pick what you’d use in English and then translate it. Learn more about German prepositions here.

Skills You’ll Need to Use ‘Fahren’ Conjugations:

‘Fahren’ makes it possible to relay information driving / riding various types of vehicles (bikes, buses, etc.) in all manner of situations past, present, future, and hypothetical. 

‘Fahren’ is such a common, everyday verb that you can’t masterfully speak German if you don’t understand how to use its various conjugations.

You’ll use ‘fahren’ in order to …

  • ✅ Talk about going places (‘I’m riding the bus home’, etc.)
  • ✅ Communicate whether you’re the one driving the vehicle or just riding along.
  • ✅ Use a lot of common idioms (e.g. ‘aus der Haut fahren’ / to hit the roof’)
  • ✅ Talk about driving / riding in the past, present, and future (I will drive…, etc.)
  • ✅ Speak hypothetically (e.g. I would have driven, if only …)
  • ✅ Give a command or make a suggestion (e.g. ‘drive slower!’ or ‘drive faster’!)

Building Blocks You Need For ‘Fahren’

‘Fahren’ conjugations empower you to express yourself in a LOT of different ways. You need to correctly wield ‘fahren’ in a variety of contexts in order to speak German capably, comfortably, and confidently.

To correctly use ‘fahren’ in various tenses and moods, to give commands or offer suggestions, or to speak hypothetically, you need to build these foundational skills:

  1. Know the subject [i.e. nominative] pronouns for all singular & plural persons.
  2. Learn the present and simple past tense conjugations of ‘fahren’ for all persons.
  3. Learn the ‘fahren’ conjugations for the conditional, subjunctive, and imperative moods.
  4. Know when to use the infinitive form vs. past participle of ‘fahren’.

Terminology Explained

subject pronouns are the words ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘we’ and ‘they’ in English. German has these same options BUT also three more! These pronouns are categorized as ‘persons’ that are either singular (e.g. ‘I’) or plural (e.g. ‘we’). 

conjugations are slight changes to a verb that line up with different ‘persons’ –for example, ‘I drive’ (base verb) vs. ‘he drives’ (with the added ‘s’). English generally has only these two conjugations, but German typically uses four conjugations.

tense & mood are simply variants of a verb such as present tense (‘I drive’), past tense (‘I drove’), future tense (‘I will drive’), and subjunctive mood (‘I would drive, [if]…’). German and English have all the same verb tenses and moods and they function similarly.

infinitive verbs are the base form of German verbs and typically end with an -en that is removed (producing the ‘root’ /’stem’) before then adding on conjugations. Also, some particular sentence formulations utilize a verb (or even two) in its infinitive form.

past participles are a form of a verb that is used to formulate the 3 ‘perfect’ tenses and also in the utilization of the passive voice. Every verb has just one past participle that is used by all persons in conjunction with a ‘helping verb’ (either ‘haben’ or ‘sein’).

“HELP! This Feels Overwhelming!”

This can understandably feel like a LOT, but the good news is that you DON’T have to fully master all the applications of ‘fahren’ right now as a beginner learner –which also means you don’t have to have all the relevant lingo totally down yet, either.

The ideal place to start is by learning just the German subject pronouns and the present tense conjugations of ‘fahren’. We covered this in depth above, but here is the table with both pieces of information, again, here:

fahren conjugation table

Repetitious, simple sentences (like the examples I gave you above in an earlier section) will help you drill these present tense ‘fahren’ conjugations into your memory. 

And since all the subject pronouns are exactly the same no matter what German verb conjugations we’re learning, we’ll get lots of mileage out of learning our ‘ich’ and ‘du’, etc.

If you’re beyond a beginner level already, you’ll see those ‘ich’s and ‘du’s repeated again and again in the following tables of ALL the ‘fahren’ conjugations. 


Learning all of this is a big task for almost every German learner.

I’ll teach you step-by-step.

Get Started Now

‘Fahren’ Conjugations in ALL Tenses & Moods

‘Fahren’ is used in 6 tenses (of the indicative mood), and in two additional moods (the subjunctive and imperative). We use ‘fahren’ to talk about ‘driving’ in the past, present, and future (e.g. I drove, I drive, I will drive). ‘Fahren’ is also used to say ‘I woulddrive’ (subjunctive) or to give a command such as ‘drive slower!’

For those of you who are ready for it, here are the full conjugation tables for ‘Fahren’:

Indicative (Indikativ)

The indicative mood is how we talk most of the time: about real facts (I won’t drive during rush hour traffic. He drove to the airport. She drives on a bumpy road.)

The indicative mood subcategories into SIX tenses in both English and German. Most of these tenses are used very similarly. 

It’s essential to learn the Present Tense first, and then the Present Perfect. After that, you’ll get the most utility out of the Simple Future, then Simple Past, then Past Perfect, and then Future Perfect.

Present (Präsens)

‘FAHREN’- Present Tense (Präsens) Table
1stich fahr(e)⁵wir fahren
2nddu fährstihr fahrt
3rder fährtsie fahren

Simple Past (Präteritum)

‘FAHREN’- Simple Past (Präteritum) Table
1stich fuhrwir fuhren
2nddu fuhrstihr fuhrt
3rder fuhrsie fuhren

Present Perfect (Perfekt)

‘FAHREN’ – Present Perfect (Perfekt) Table
1stich habe gefahrenwir haben gefahren
2nddu hast gefahrenihr habt gefahren
3rder hat gefahrensie haben gefahren

Past Perfect (Plusquamperfekt)

‘FAHREN’ – Past Perfect (Plusquamperfekt) Table
1stich hatte gefahrenwir hatten gefahren
2nddu hattest gefahrenihr hattet gefahren
3rder hatte gefahrensie hatten gefahren

Simple Future (Futur I)

‘FAHREN’ – Simple Future (Futur I) Table
1stich werde fahrenwir werden fahren
2nddu wirst fahrenihr werdet fahren
3rder wird fahrensie werden fahren

Future Perfect (Futur II)

‘FAHREN’ – Future Perfect (Futur II) Table
1stich werde gefahren habenwir werden gefahren haben
2nddu wirst gefahren habenihr werdet gefahren haben
3rder wird gefahren habensie werden gefahren haben
Important Notes on German Tenses

Although German and English HAVE all the same tenses, they aren’t necessarily all used the same way.

In German …

  • The Present Tense covers three different English options: for example, I eat, I do eat, I am eating would ALL simply be ‘Ich esse’ in German. 
  • The Present Perfect Tense (which would technically translate to, e.g. I have eaten) actually correlates with English’s simple past (i.e.  I ate) in terms of usage.
  • The Simple Future tense is frequently avoided in favor of the Present tense and a time adverbial. 

Imperative (Imperativ)

The imperative mood is used in both English and German for giving commands. Note that a ‘du’ or ‘ihr’ subject is generally omitted, but that a ‘wir’ and ‘Sie’ must be present.

‘FAHREN’- Imperative (Imperativ) Table
1stfahren wir!
2nd Informalfahr(e)⁵ [du]!fahrt [ihr]!
2nd Formalfahren Sie!fahren Sie!

Subjunctive (Konjunktiv)

The subjunctive mood is used in both English and German (but much more frequently in German!) to communicate hypothetical (i.e. not factual [indicative]) situations. 

The subjunctive can be used to communicate a present or future likelihood (but not certainty) OR a complete impossibility in the past, present, or future. 

The subjunctive is also used for expressing polite requests vs. the commands of the imperative mood.

Present Subjunctive (Konjunktiv I) 

‘FAHREN’- Present Subjunctive (Konjunktiv I) Table
1stich fahrewir fahren
2nddu fahrestihr fahret
3rder fahresie fahren

Past Subjunctive (Konjunktiv II) 

‘FAHREN’- Past Subjunctive (Konjunktiv II)  Table
1stich führewir führen
2nddu führestihr führet
3rder führesie führen

Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Perfekt) 

‘FAHREN’ – Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Perfekt) Table
1stich habe gefahrenwir haben gefahren
2nddu habest gefahrenihr habet gefahren
3rder habe gefahrensie haben gefahren

Past Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Plusquamperfekt) 

‘FAHREN’ – Past Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Plusquamperfekt) Table
1stich hätte gefahrenwir hätten gefahren
2nddu hättest gefahrenihr hättet gefahren
3rder hätte gefahrensie hätten gefahren

Future Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur I) 

‘FAHREN’ – Future Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur I) Table
1stich werde fahrenwir werden fahren
2nddu werdest fahrenihr werdet fahren
3rder werde fahrensie werden fahren

Future Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur II)

‘FAHREN’ – Future Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur II) Table
1stich werde gefahren habenwir werden gefahren haben
2nddu werdest gefahren habenihr werdet gefahren haben
3rder werde gefahren habensie werden gefahren haben

Common Confusion

Does ‘fahren’ use ‘sein’ or ‘haben’?

The verb ‘fahren’ will use ‘sein’ as its helping verb in any compound tense (e.g. present perfect) IF it is indicating a change of location for the subject noun (e.g. Ich bin nach Berlin gefahren = I drove to Berlin). 

But it will use ‘haben’ for the helping verb is ‘fahren’ is used transitively to refer to driving a vehicle of some kind (e.g. Ich habe Motorrad gefahren = I rode [my] motorbike.) 

What is the difference between ‘reisen’ and ‘fahren’ in German?

‘Reisen’ and ‘fahren’ have similar translations which involve transportation. ‘Fahren’ will be more commonly associated with driving (i.e. I drove to the store), while ‘reisen’ is a more general word for traveling (i.e. I traveled to Italy).

What does the German word ‘nach’ mean?

The dative preposition ‘nach’ can have many meanings. Depending on the context of the sentence it could mean ‘after,’ ‘past,’ ‘for,’ ‘according to,’ and many more. Check out the full list of definitions here

Rapid Q&A

What is the perfect of ‘fahren’ in German?

The perfect form of ‘fahren’ is ‘gefahren.’ See the full list of conjugations here.

What are the 3 forms of ‘fahren’?

fahren conjugation 3 verb forms

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