- Perfect Tense: Usage
- Perfect Tense: Conjugation
The Perfekt (perfect tense) is often used in spoken and non-formal written language instead of the past tense. In English, we would use the simple past tense in place of it.
Gestern hat Jan sein Büro aufgeräumt.
Yesterday Jan cleaned up his office.
Perfect Tense: Usage
Rule 1: We use the perfect tense in spoken and informal speech when talking about an action that was completed in the past, when we want to focus on the result:
Gestern hat sie das Projekt abgeschlossen.
Yestrerday she finished the project. (Result: the project is finished).
Note: when a specific point in the past is mentioned, we always use the perfect tense.
Gestern Abend habe ich einen Krimi im Fernsehen gesehen.
Last night I watched a thriller on TV.
Rule 2: We never use the perfect tense with modal verbs (können, müssen, etc).
Perfect Tense: Conjugation
Rule 3: To form the present perfect tense in German, we need two parts:
- an auxiliary verbs haben (have) or sein (to be) in the present tense, which is placed in the second position of a sentence.
- and the Partizip II (past participle) of the main verb, which is placed at the end of a sentence.
Ich habe das Buch gelesen.
I have read the book.
Sein or Haben?
Rule 4: To form the Perfekt we use an auxiliary verb. We use sein (to be):
- If there is a change of place in the sentence
Er ist nach Deutschland gegangen.
He went to Germany.
- If the subject changes its state
Er ist gewachsen.
He has grown.
- with the verbs "sein", "werden" and "bleiben"
Er ist gewesen / geworden / geblieben...
He has been / become / stayed...
Rule 5: The perfect tense with haben (to have) is used with all verbs that do not use sein. It's best to simply learn the rules for using sein above and for the rest of the situations, use haben.
Er hat aufgeräumt.
He cleaned up.