‘Schreiben’ Conjugations

‘Schreiben’ conjugations translate to ‘I write / wrote / will write, etc.’ The infinitive verb ‘schreiben’ (‘to write’ in English) is one of the very first German verbs you should learn.

‘Schreiben’ 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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‘Schreiben’ Conjugations
Written by Laura Bennett
-   Updated:
- 13 minute read
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Learning ‘schreiben’ 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

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

How is ‘Schreiben’ Used in German?

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

‘Schreiben’ allows you to talk about yourself and others ‘writing’ (I write a paper/I wrote a letter/I will write a poem/ etc.) in all manner of situations past, present, future, and hypothetical. 

You’ll use ‘schreiben’ in order to …

  • ✅ Talk about what / how / when / etc. someone is writing.
  • ✅ Utilize certain idioms and other common figures of speech.
  • ✅ Say that someone writes, wrote, will have written, will write, etc.

What Are The 6 Conjugations of ‘Schreiben’? 

The 6 conjugations of ‘schreiben’ in the present tense line up with our 6 subject pronouns to give us ‘ich schreibe’, ‘du schreibst’, ‘er / sie / es schreibt’, ‘wir schreiben’, ‘ihr schreibt’, and ‘sie schreiben.’

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

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

‘Schreiben’ (in English)

I write
you write
he/she/it writes
we write
they write

‘Schreiben’ in German is ‘to write’ in English. And in the present tense, we have two possible conjugations: ‘write’, and ‘writes’.

In the case of ‘write’, 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 ‘writes’.

Those same conjugations in German look like this:

‘Schreiben’ (Present Tense) English vs German

Schreiben 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 ‘schreiben’ (to write) occurring with equivalent pronouns?
  • Which language includes more changes compared to the other? 

‘Schreiben’ in the Present Tense

The present tense conjugations of ‘schreiben’ are ich schreibe, du schreibst, er / sie / es schreibt, wir schreiben, ihr schreibt, and sie schreiben.

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

Present Tense Conjugation Chart:
ich schreibewir schreiben
du schreibstihr schreibt
er/sie/es schreibtsie schreiben

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

To talk about the conjugations of ‘schreiben’ 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 ‘schreiben’ stays the same:

German Subject Pronoun & ‘Schreiben’ Conjugations Chart:
1stich schreibewir schreiben
2nd (informal)du schreibstihr schreibt
(formal)Sie schreibenSie schreiben
3rder/sie/es schreibtsie schreiben

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 ‘Schreiben’

Knowing how to use ‘schreiben’ 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 schreibe die Doktorarbeit. (I am writing the doctoral thesis)
Ich schreibe das letzte Buch. (I am writing the last book.)

Wir schreiben die Doktorarbeit. (We are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Wir schreiben das letzte Buch. (We are writing the last book.)

2nd Person (Informal), Singular & Plural

Du schreibst die Doktorarbeit. (You are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Du schreibst das letzte Buch. (You are writing the last book.)

Ihr schreibt die Doktorarbeit. (You are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Ihr schreibt das letzte Buch. (You are writing the last book.)

2nd Person (Formal), Singular & Plural

Sie schreiben die Doktorarbeit. (You are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Sie schreiben das letzte Buch. (You are writing the last book.)

Sie schreiben die Doktorarbeit. (You are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Sie schreiben das letzte Buch. (You are writing the last book.)

3rd Person, Singular & Plural

Die Frau schreibt die Doktorarbeit. (The woman is writing the doctoral thesis.)
Die Frau schreibt das letzte Buch. (The woman is writing the last book.)

Die Frauen schreiben die Doktorarbeit. (The women are writing the doctoral thesis.)
Die Frauen schreiben das letzte Buch. (The women are writing the last book.)


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 ‘schreiben’.

  • There are multiple ways to say ‘the’ in German –such as DIE Doktorarbeit and DAS Buch. Learn more about German noun gender here.
  • The base adjective ‘letzt’ means ‘last’, but it exists either as letzter, letzte, letztes, letzten, or letztem in any German sentence. Learn more about German declensions here.
  • Almost every English noun pluralizes simply with ‘s’ (e.g. doctor -> doctors), 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 both ‘Frau’ (woman) -> ‘Frauen’ (women). Learn more about German noun plurals here.

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

‘Schreiben’ makes it possible to relay information about writing (and also spelling, typing, recording, authoring, corresponding, etc.) in all manner of situations past, present, future, and hypothetical. 

‘Schreiben’ 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 ‘schreiben’ in order to …

  • ✅ Talk about the various nuanced applications of writing.
  • ✅ Use figure of speech (e.g. ‘to chalk up profits’ uses ‘schreiben’ in German)
  • ✅ Use a lot of common idioms (e.g. ‘etwas in den Wind schreiben’ / to kiss sth. goodbye’)
  • ✅ Talk about ‘writing’ in the past, present, and future (I will write…, etc.)
  • ✅ Speak hypothetically (e.g. I would have written, if only …)
  • ✅ Give a command or make a suggestion (e.g. ‘write neatly!’)

Building Blocks You Need For ‘Schreiben’

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

To correctly use ‘schreiben’ 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 ‘schreiben’ for all persons.
  3. Learn the ‘schreiben’ conjugations for the conditional, subjunctive, and imperative moods.
  4. Know when to use the infinitive form vs. past participle of ‘schreiben’.

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 write’ (base verb) vs. ‘he writes’ (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 write’), past tense (‘I wrote’), future tense (‘I will write’), and subjunctive mood (‘I would write, [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 ‘schreiben’ 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 ‘schreiben’. We covered this in depth above, but here is the table with both pieces of information, again, here:

schreiben conjugation table

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


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

I’ll teach you step-by-step.

Get Started Now

‘Schreiben’ Conjugations in ALL Tenses & Moods

‘Schreiben’ is used in 6 tenses (of the indicative mood), and in two additional moods (the subjunctive and imperative). We use ‘schreiben’ to talk about ‘writing’ in the past, present, and future (e.g. I wrote, I write, I will write). ‘Schreiben’ is also used to say ‘I wouldwrite’ (subjunctive) or to give a command such as ‘write neatly!’

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

Indicative (Indikativ)

The indicative mood is how we talk most of the time: about real facts (He wrote a flowery poem for his wife. She writes a letter to her mother every month. The student will write a paper for her doctorate.)

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)

‘SCHREIBEN’- Present Tense (Präsens) Table
1stich schreib(e)⁵wir schreiben
2nddu schreibstihr schreibt
3rder schreibtsie schreiben

Simple Past (Präteritum)

‘SCHREIBEN’- Simple Past (Präteritum) Table
1stich schriebwir schrieben
2nddu schriebstihr schriebt
3rder schriebsie schrieben

Present Perfect (Perfekt)

‘SCHREIBEN’ – Present Perfect (Perfekt) Table
1stich habe geschriebenwir haben geschrieben
2nddu hast geschriebenihr habt geschrieben
3rder hat geschriebensie haben geschrieben

Past Perfect (Plusquamperfekt)

‘SCHREIBEN’ – Past Perfect (Plusquamperfekt) Table
1stich hatte geschriebenwir hatten geschrieben
2nddu hattest geschriebenihr hattet geschrieben
3rder hatte geschriebensie hatten geschrieben

Simple Future (Futur I)

‘SCHREIBEN’ – Simple Future (Futur I) Table
1stich werde schreibenwir werden schreiben
2nddu wirst schreibenihr werdet schreiben
3rder wird schreibensie werden schreiben

Future Perfect (Futur II)

‘SCHREIBEN’ – Future Perfect (Futur II) Table
1stich werde geschrieben habenwir werden geschrieben haben
2nddu wirst geschrieben habenihr werdet geschrieben haben
3rder wird geschrieben habensie werden geschrieben 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.

‘SCHREIBEN’- Imperative (Imperativ) Table
1stschreiben wir!
2nd Informalschreib(e)⁵ [du]!schreibt [ihr]!
2nd Formalschreiben Sie!schreiben 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) 

‘SCREIBEN’- Present Subjunctive (Konjunktiv I) Table
1stich schreibewir schreiben
2nddu schreibestihr schreibet
3rder schreibesie schreiben

Past Subjunctive (Konjunktiv II) 

‘SCREIBEN’- Past Subjunctive (Konjunktiv II)  Table
1stich schriebewir schrieben
2nddu schriebestihr schriebet
3rder schriebesie schrieben

Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Perfekt) 

‘SCREIBEN’ – Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Perfekt) Table
1stich habe geschriebenwir haben geschrieben
2nddu habest geschriebenihr habet geschrieben
3rder habe geschriebensie haben geschrieben

Past Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Plusquamperfekt) 

‘SCREIBEN’ – Past Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Plusquamperfekt) Table
1stich hätte geschriebenwir hätten geschrieben
2nddu hättest geschriebenihr hättet geschrieben
3rder hätte geschriebensie hätten geschrieben

Future Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur I) 

‘SCREIBEN’ – Future Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur I) Table
1stich werde schreibenwir werden schreiben
2nddu werdest schreibenihr werdet schreiben
3rder werde schreibensie werden schreiben

Future Perfect Subjunctive (Konjunktiv Futur II)

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

Common Confusion

Is ‘schreiben’ a dative verb?

Schreiben is an accusative verb, which means it will require a direct object (accusative case) in order to create a complete sentence. Other elements may be optionally included. 

Rapid Q&A

How do you conjugate the verb ‘schreiben’?

Schreiben needs to be conjugated for each person. You’ll see ‘ich schreibe, du schreibst, Sie schreiben, etc.’ You can read the full conjugation list here. 

What are the verb endings for ‘schreiben’?

The possible endings for ‘schreiben’ are -e, -st, -t. ‘Schreiben’ will also be used in its infinitive form for three persons (wir, sie, and Sie). You can see the full conjugation list here. 

What is the present perfect tense of ‘schreiben’?


What is the past tense of ‘schreiben’?

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What are the 3 forms of ‘schreiben’?

schreiben conjugation 3 verb forms

Common Confusion 

Different versions of ‘ihr’ and ‘schreiben’

In fact, there are a total of SIX different ways to slightly modify ‘Schreiben’ and ‘ihr’:

sein, seiner, seine, seinen, seinem, seines
ihr, ihrer, ihre, ihren, ihrem, ihres

As English-speakers, our minds jam up at this point … how do you have six different ways to say ‘his’ and ‘her’???

And then, next, we wonder ‘do these different options really matter?!’ (Answer: YES.)

The German Case System

Learning the rules for when and how to use these different variants of ‘schreiben’ and ‘ihr’ (and the many other determiners and adjectives that also need these same modifications called ‘declensions’) is one of the most challenging aspects of learning how to speak German. 

Crucial to really truly mastering declensions as part of the infamous ‘German Case System’ is actually understanding WHY these modifications need to happen in the first place.

I teach you how to work with declensions step-by-step in my course ‘German Foundations’ so that you can approach this bear of a topic with comfortable confidence.

Changing ‘cases’

Check out these example sentences that always use ‘his black dog’:

His black dog is big and mean.
I don’t like his black dog.
I won’t offer his black dog a treat.
His black dog’s teeth look menacing!

But now here’s the deal: each of these particular uses of ‘his black dog’ would be slightly different in German (‘sein schwarzer Hund,’ ‘seinen schwarzen Hund,’ ‘seinem schwarzen Hund,’ and ‘seines schwarzen Hundes,’ respectively).

German has SIX declension options: -m, -r, -e, -s, -n, – (no declension). 

Knowing which one to use when is ESSENTIAL to speaking German.

How to use declensions

Knowing which declension to use and when is a matter of three components:

  1. what gender is the noun that follows (masculine, neuter, feminine, or plural)?
  2. what role does that noun play in the sentence (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive)?
  3. what declension pattern does the noun phrase use?

These three components all intersect to create a total of 18 declension combinations that we have to know how to choose between.

Put like that, German sounds pretty daunting.

But there’s actually a super-usable system for understanding the ins-and-outs of declensions that ANYONE can successfully use. It will have you comfortably wielding German declensions in no time!