Verb forms in the present perfect tense

In English, verbs take no endings, but German has more endings for verbs in the past tense than English. Note that in German, the present perfect tense is mostly used for the spoken language.

Verb formation in the present perfect tense

In German, verbs in the present perfect tense are formed either regularly or irregularly (similar pattern in English).

  • Regular verbs add the required endings to the stem
  • Irregular verbs change their stem vowel

Verb formation in the present perfect tense – regular verbs

The present perfect tense is constructed by using the present tense of “haben” + the past participle of the main verb. The passt participle is formed by using the stem of the verb and you add “ge-” in front and “-t” at the end of the stem. The stem is the form of the infinitive without -en or -n.

Example:
Infinitive: lernen
Stem: lern
Past Participle: gelernt

Chose the right form of “haben”

 

Person
haben
ich (“I”)
habe
du (“you”, informal use)
hast
er, sie, es (“he/she/it)
hat
wir (“we”)
haben
ihr (“you”, informal use)
habt
sie (“they”)
haben

 

Verb formation in the present perfect tense – regular verbs with stem endings in -d or -t

The present perfect tense is constructed by using the present tense of “haben” + the past participle of the main verb. The passt participle is formed by using the stem of the verb and you add “ge-” in front and “-et” at the end of the stem (ends in -d or -t need an extra -e):

Example:
Infinitive: reden
Stem: red
Past Participle: geredet

Word order:
The form of “haben” takes the second position in a sentence, while the past participle goes to the end of the sentence or clause.

Note:
Verbs of motion or verbs which express a change (of state) form the present perfect with a form of sein plus the past participle.

Choose the right form of “Sein”

 

Person
sein
ich (“I”)
bin
du (“you”, informal use)
bist
er, sie, es (“he/she/it)
ist
wir (“we”)
sind
ihr (“you”, informal use)
seid
sie (“they”)
sind

Example:
Person: Ich
Infinitive: lernen
Stem: lern
Past Participle: gelernt
Tense: Ich habe gelernt.

Example:
Person: Ich
Infinitive: reisen (motion -> form of “sein)
Stem: reis
Past Participle: gereist
Tense: Ich bin gereist.

Verb formation in the present perfect tense – irregular verbs

There are a lot of irregular formations of the present perfect (to much for one page), but most German dictionaries have a list of irregular verbs in which the past participles are given.


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