Exercise makes a man perfect

Perfect - German tense for the perfect present

What is perfect

The German tense Perfect We use (perfect present) for completed actions in which the result or consequence is in the foreground. In spoken language, we often use the perfect tense instead of the simple past tense.

In our simple explanation you will learn the rules for using and forming the perfect tense and you can test your knowledge in the exercises.


When do you use perfect in German?

We use the German tense perfect for:

  • Completed actions in the past (mostly the result or the consequence of the action is in the foreground.)
    Michael tidied up his office yesterday.
    (Result: the office is now tidy)
    He made up his mind to always be so tidy now.
    (Result: he doesn't want to be so messy anymore)
  • Actions that will be completed by a certain point in time in the future (the future point in time must be recognizable by a time, otherwise we use future tense II.)
    He'll have forgotten that by next week.

How do you form the perfect?

To conjugate verbs in the perfect tense, we need the present tense of sein / haben and the participle II of the main verb.

to have or be

We take the auxiliary verb to have:

  • for verbs with an accusative object
    Michael hasthe officetidy. (clean up something)
  • for verbs without an accusative object that do not express a change in place / state
    He hastidy. (to clean up)
  • with reflexive verbs
    The office hasto change. (change)

We take the auxiliary verb be:

  • for verbs of movement (without accusative object): walk, run, drive, fall, fly, come, travel, stumble, fall
    All colleagues are in his office came.
  • in verbs of the change of state: wake up / wake up, fall asleep, freeze, thaw, die, disintegrate
    Michael's love of order isawakens.
  • with the following verbs: stay, be, will, succeed, fail, happen
    What about Michael happen?

Past participle

We form the past participle in German as follows:

Regular verbs (weak verbs) form the past participle ge ... t. In between we put the verb stem.

learn - learned

Irregular verbs are verbs that change the root of the word in the past tense and / or past participle (see list of irregular verbs). We differentiate between strong and mixed verbs.

  • Strong verbs form the participle with ge… en.
    see - seen (see-saw-seen)
    go - gone (go-went-gone)
  • Mixed verbs form the past participle ge ... t.
    have - had (have-had-had)
    bring - brought (bring-brought-brought)

Special features of education

When forming Participle II, we have to pay attention to some special features:

  • The root of the word ends in d / t, we hang on weak / mixed verbs -et at.
    wasten - waitedet
  • Verbs with the ending -ieren form the past participle without ge.
    studieren - educated
  • Verbs that cannot be separated form the past participle without ge. (see separable and inseparable verbs)
    understand understood
  • In the case of separable verbs ge after the prefix. (see separable and inseparable verbs)
    arrive - atgecome