Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Gehen


Alternative forms[edit]

  • geh'n
  • gehn (dated in formal prose, but still common informally and poetically)


From Middle High German gān, gēn, from Old High German gān, gēn, from Proto-West Germanic *gān, from Proto-Germanic *gāną, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰeh₁- (to leave).

Cognate with Dutch gaan, Low German gan, gahn, English go, Swedish and Danish .

The form gēn instead of gān is of Bavarian origin, but many dialects of Central and Low German have -e- (from earlier -ei-) or ei in the 2nd and 3rd person singular present, in keeping with the Proto-Germanic irregular conjugation. The -h- was introduced into the spelling by analogy with sehen, in which it had become mute but was retained in spelling.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɡeːən/, [ˈɡeː.ən] (official standard, but less common)
  • IPA(key): /ɡeːn/, [ɡeːn] (predominant)
  • Rhymes: -eːən, -eːn
  • Hyphenation: ge‧hen
  • (file)


gehen (class 7 strong, third-person singular present geht, past tense ging, past participle gegangen, auxiliary sein)

  1. (intransitive) to go, to walk
    Lass uns beide mit dem Hund gehen.Let's walk the dog together.
    Ich sah die Kinder über die Straße gehen.I saw the children walk/go across the street.
    Mein Baby beginnt schon zu gehen.My baby is already starting to walk.
  2. (intransitive) to leave
    Ich gehe jetzt.I’m leaving now.
  3. (intransitive) to leave, to take off (areoplane, train)
    Wann geht dein Zug?
    When is your train leaving?
  4. (impersonal, intransitive) to be going; to be all right; indicates how the dative object fares
    Wie geht es dir?How are you doing?
    Es geht mir gut.I’m doing well. (Literally, “It goes well for me.”)
    Es geht.It’s all right.
  5. (slightly informal, intransitive) to be possible
    Das würde vielleicht gehen.That might be possible.
  6. (colloquial, intransitive) to work, to function (of a machine, method or the like)
    Synonym: funktionieren
    Der Kaffeeautomat geht nicht.The coffee dispenser doesn't work.
    • 2014, Der Spiegel, number 21, page 62:
      Aber erst in Beirut lernte sie, wie professionelles Kochen geht, die Logistik, das Timing, die Organisation, um mehrere Hundert Mahlzeiten zuzubereiten.
      But only in Beirut did she learn how professional cooking works, the logistics, the timing, the organization for preparing several hundred meals.
  7. (colloquial, intransitive) to last, to go for, to go on, to be in progress
    Das ging für eine halbe Stunde oder so.This went on for half an hour or so.
    Die Sitzung geht bis ein Uhr.The session is scheduled until one o’clock.
  8. to sit, to rise, to expand (of dough etc.)
    Synonym: aufgehen
    Teig drei Stunden gehen lassen.Let dough sit for three hours.
  9. (colloquial, intransitive) to be (on) (to pay)
    Die Getränke gehen auf mich.Drinks are on me.
  10. (regional or dated, impersonal, intransitive) to approach; to be going (on some one) [+ auf (object) = time]
    Es geht auf 8 Uhr.It’s going on 8 o’clock.

Usage notes[edit]

Unlike English to go, German gehen does not mean "to travel somewhere" in general. A distinction must be made between gehen (walk), fahren (go by bike, car, train, or ship), and fliegen (go by plane). If used with a place one cannot or would not commonly walk to, gehen often implies that one intends to stay there permanently, e.g.: Ich gehe nach New York. – I'm going to live in New York.


Note: The 2nd person plural imperative can also be gehet, now in archaic or poetic style.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]