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See also: Gehen



PIE roots

From Old High German gān, gēn, 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 -h- was introduced into the spelling by analogy with sehen, in which it had become mute but was retained in spelling.

Alternative forms[edit]

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


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


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

  1. (intransitive) to go, to walk
  2. (transitive) to walk (some distance); to go (some distance) by foot
  3. (intransitive) to leave
    Ich gehe jetzt. ― I’m leaving now.
  4. (intransitive) to leave, to take off (airplane, train)
    Wann geht dein Zug? − When is your train leaving?
  5. (impersonal, intransitive) to be going; to be alright; 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 alright.”
  6. (colloquial, intransitive) to be possible
    Das würde vielleicht gehen. ― That might be possible.
  7. (colloquial, intransitive) to work, to function (of a machine, method or the like)
    Der Kaffeeautomat geht nicht. ― The coffee dispenser doesn't work.
    • 2014, Der Spiegel, issue 21/2014, page 62:
      Aber erst in Beirut lernte sie, wie professionelles Kochen geht, die Logistik, das Timing, die Organisation, um mehrere Hundert Mahlzeiten zuzubereiten.
      But not until Beirut she learned how professional cooking works, the logistics, the timing, the organization for preparing several hundred meals.
  8. (colloquial, intransitive) to be in progress; to last
    Die Sitzung geht bis ein Uhr. ― The session is scheduled until one o’clock.
  9. (regional or dated, impersonal, intransitive, with “auf” followed by a time) to approach; to be going (on some one)
    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 imples 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 in archaic or poetic style.


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