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The German Perfekt (perfect tense)

What is the Perfekt and how do we build it? Here we try to sum up everything you need to know about this tense.

The Perfekt, just like the Präteritum, is used to talk about something that happened in the past. In fact, the Perfekt and the Präteritum are often used interchangeably. You could say “Gestern habe ich ein Buch gekauft” or “Gestern kaufte ich ein Buch”. 
The meaning is always the same: “Yesterday I bought a book“.

However, Germans mainly use the Perfekt in everyday oral language, whereas in the written and formal language they prefer the Präteritum.

How to build the Perfekt

The perfect tense (Perfekt) is formed by an auxiliary verb and a past participle (Partizip II). The auxiliary verb can either be “haben” or “sein”, depending on the main verb, and it must be conjugated in the present tense (Präsens) according to the subject. Remember to put the past participle at the end of the sentence.

Ich habe eine E-Mail geschrieben. – I wrote an e-mail.
Sie ist nach Paris geflogen. – She flew to Paris.

Perfekt_rule

 

Past participle: weak, strong and mixed verbs

Weak verbs (schwache Verben)

Weak (regular) verbs build the Partizip II with the prefix GE and the suffix T. These should be added to the verb’s stem. For instance:

SAGEN – GESAGT
KAUFEN – GEKAUFT
LERNEN – GELERNT

If the stem ends in -T or -D we should add an E between the stem and the suffix T:

ARBEITEN – GEARBEITET
WARTEN – GEWARTET
REDEN – GEREDET

If the verb ends in -IEREN we do not use the prefix GE:

TELEFONIEREN – TELEFONIERT
FUNKTIONIEREN – FUNKTIONIERT

 

Strong verbs (starke Verben)

Moving on to strong verbs, their past participle does not follow a general rule. They add the prefix GE and they end in EN, but the stem often changes. For this reason, it is important to learn these verbs’ past participle by heart. A few examples:

FAHREN – GEFAHREN
GEHEN – GEGANGEN
BLEIBEN – GEBLIEBEN
HELFEN – GEHOLFEN
TRINKEN – GETRUNKEN

 

Mixed verbs (gemischte Verben)

Mixed verbs add the same prefix and suffix as regular verbs, but they change their stem:

BRINGEN – GEBRACHT
DENKEN – GEDACHT
WISSEN – GEWUSST
KENNEN – GEKANNT

 

Certain rules apply to both weak and strong verbs. For instance, when it comes to separable verbs, GE has to be put between the prefix and the root.

AUFRÄUMEN – AUFGERÄUMT (weak verb)
MITNEHMEN – MITGENOMMEN (strong verb)
EINSTEIGEN – EINGESTIEGEN (strong verb)

If the verb is non-separable (meaning that the verb has a prefix that never gets separated from it), we do not put GE:
VERSUCHEN – VERSUCHT (weak verb)
BESUCHEN – BESUCHT (weak verb)
UNTERNEHMEN – UNTERGENOMMEN (strong verb)

 

“Haben” or “sein”? Which auxiliary verb should we use?

In most cases, the Perfekt is built with “haben”. Nevertheless, verbs that indicate movement build the Perfekt with “sein”.

Ich bin nach Paris gefahren. – I went to Paris.
Er ist nach Hause gelaufen. – He walked home.
Wir sind zur Party gekommen. – We came to the party.

The same verbs can be used with “haben” when they have a direct object (Ich habe ein Auto gefahren – I drove my car), as well as when the focus is on the activity and not on the movement itself (Er hat eine Stunde gelaufen – He walked for an hour).

 

All reflexive verbs have “haben” as auxiliary verb.

Sie hat sich angezogen. – She got dressed.
Wir haben uns verirrt. – We got lost.

 

In addition, we should consider the verb’s transitivity. Transitive verbs (with direct object) build the perfect tense with “haben”, whereas intransitive verbs usually build it with “sein”.

Ich habe einen Apfel gegessen. – I ate an apple.
Ich bin geblieben. – I stayed.
Was ist passiert? – What happened?

Please note that the same verb can be used both as a transitive and as an intransitive verb.

Das Glas ist gebrochen. – The glass broke.
Ich habe das Glas gebrochen. – I broke the glass.

 

Was hast du gestern gemacht?

If you want to practice, try to list all the things you did yesterday. We gave you some examples.

  • Ich bin aufgestanden. – I got up.
  • Ich habe Brot mit Honig gegessen. – I ate bread with honey.

 

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Perfekt_modal verbs

The German Perfekt and modal verbs: gesagt or sagen?

Building the German Perfekt with modal verbs: the double infinitive

I had to say my name”…

Would you know how to translate this sentence into German? If the answer is no, you may want to keep reading this article. Sure, you can use the Präteritum and say “Ich wollte meinen Namen sagen”, but what if you want to use the Perfekt? In the following paragraphs, we will teach you how to conjugate modal verbs in the perfect tense. You will see, it is easier than you think!

 

A step back: the Perfekt

The perfect tense (Perfekt) is used to speak about an event that took place in the past. This tense is formed by combining an auxiliary verb and a past participle (Partizip II). The auxiliary verb can either be “haben” or “sein”, depending on the main verb, and it must be conjugated according to the subject.

Sie hat gegessen. – She ate.
Er ist nach London gefahren. – He went to London.

 

The Perfekt and modal verbs

Modal verbs can also be conjugated in the perfect tense. If the modal verb is used alone, we build the Perfekt with the auxiliary „haben” and the past participle of the modal verb, just like we have just seen. Again, the auxiliary has to be conjugated to agree with the subject.

Ich habe ein Glas Wasser gewollt. – I wanted a glass of water.
Sie hat Deutschland gemocht. – She liked Germany.

However, when there is no full verb in the sentence, we generally use the Präteritum of the modal verb.

Ich wollte ein Glas Wasser. – I wanted a glass of water.
Sie mochte Deutschland. – She liked Germany.

More often than not, a modal is used with another verb. In order to build the perfect tense, we use a specific structure called the double infinitive. Here is an example:

Ich habe nach Berlin fahren wollen. – I wanted to go to Berlin.

 

The Double Infinitive

Let’s go back to the sentence we were talking about in the first place.
Ich habe meinen Namen sagen müssen. – I had to say my name.

To conjugate modal verbs in the Perfekt, we still need the auxiliary “haben” (conjugated in accordance to the subject). The difference here is made by the two infinitives at the end of sentence. That is why we call this “double infinitive”. In particular, we should put the infinitive form of the main verb first and then the infinitive form of the modal verb.

Remember to always put the two infinitives at the end. If there are some complements, these should be put between the auxiliary and the two infinitives or at the beginning of the sentence.

Ich habe meiner Mutter beim Hausputz helfen müssen. – I had to help my mother clean the house.
Gestern habe ich meiner Mutter beim Hausputz helfen müssen. – Yesterday I had to help my mother clean the house.

double_infinitive_rule

Let’s practice

Was hast du gestern machen müssen? – What did you have to do yesterday?
Und was hast du gestern machen wollen? – What did you want to do yesterday?
Try to answer these two questions using the double infinitive. You can make more than one sentence for each answer.

Examples:
Ich habe gestern lernen müssen. – Yesterday I had to study.
Ich habe gestern lesen wollen. – Yesterday I wanted to read.

 

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Interactive webinars about specific topics of the German language: 90 min, 18 €. Max 16 people

Do you want to go deeper on specific topics about German Grammar and conversation? Berlino Schule offers you different interactive lessons to improve many German language topics.

Perfekt, local and temporal prepositions, sentence structure with complements, Präteritum… Berlino Schule’s webinars are just what you are looking for if you want to learn or revise specific topics of the German language. Every lesson is a full immersion on different aspects of the German grammar, to go deeper on the language and remove any doubts.

  • Each single lesson costs 18 € per person and runs for 90 minutes.
  • If you book three webinars you pay only 45 € (15 € per lesson).
  • It’s an interactive lesson: students can ask questions and talk with the teacher. During every webinar the student will practice German grammar, comprehension and do role plays.
  • Teachers are only German native speakers.
  • Limited spots per lesson: 16 people.
  • No need of books, material will be provided from the school.
  • Lessons will be held on Zoom. You don’t need to download any app, you will only have to click on a link provided by the school.

Please write to info@berlinoschule.com to reserve your spot.

Choose the topic you want from the list below and email info@berlinoschule.com to book your space.

1. Perfekt

2. Local and temporal prepositions 

3. Sentence structure with complements 

4. Präteritum 

5. Legal German

6. Prepositions (akk & dat) and verbs of position and movement 

7. German for the every day life

8. Modal verbs

9. Dative or accusative? The German cases. 

10. Adjective declinations 

11. Business German 

12. Konjunktiv II

13. The infinitive sentence in German 

14. German for doctors and nurses  

15. German for the job Interview

1. PERFEKT

Part 1: A brief review of the formation of the past perfect. Have or be as auxiliaries? How to recognise the correct auxiliary.

Part 2: The prefixes & suffixes: ge or without ge? With suffix en or t? How to recognise the right prefix and suffix.

Part 3: The past tense in the affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences and sentence structure.

Part 4: Role plays and interactive quizzes for each section with space for questions and doubts.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B2.1, B2.2

Dates available at the moment:

Monday 8 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 5th April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 3 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

2. LOCAL AND TEMPORAL PREPOSITIONS

Part 1: In, auf, über, unter, nach, zu? How to choose the correct preposition. Practical rules to avoid any mistake and consolidation exercises.

Part 2: Seit vs. vor? How to use temporal prepositions.

Part 3: Dative or accusative? How not to get cases wrong by choosing the right verbs: verb of motion vs. stative verbs.

Part 4: Where is the post office? How can I get to school? Knowing how to ask for information in the street and giving directions through role play and text comprehension.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B2.1

Dates available at the moment:

Tuesday 9 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 6 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 4 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

3. SENTENCE STRUCTURE WITH COMPLEMENTS

Part 1: Tekamolo in affirmative, interrogative and negative sentences: the rule for using complements in the sentence.

Part 2: The correct word order: should AKK or DAT go first?

Part 3: Ich kaufe meinem Bruder eine Puppe or ich kaufe eine Puppe meinem Bruder? 20 minutes of role play to practise the correct structure.

Part 4: How would the Germans say? last night at 6 p.m. we watched a match. The sentence structure with the past tense and the subordinate clauses.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A1.2, A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2

Dates available at the moment:

Wednesday 10 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 7th April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 5 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

4. Präteritum 

If you want to brush up the Präteritum in German and understand when you should use the Präteritum or the Perfekt this is the webinar you’re looking for.
Part 1: The formation of the past tense in regular and irregular verbs: practical rules to avoid mistakes.
Part 2: Perfekt or Präteritum? Which to use?
Part 3: Text comprehension: Can you understand a fairy tale in German? Guess which fairy tale it is.
Part 4: Try to present a fairy tale from your own country: an interactive exercise to practice the Präteritum.
Recommended for the following German levels: A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B2.1
Dates available at the moment:

Monday 15 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 12 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 10 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

5. Legal German

You are a lawyer and would like to learn legal German? Our legal German webinar is aimed at lawyers or would-be lawyers who would like to perfect or learn the legal jargon from scratch. Are you a translator and would like to specialise in legal German but don’t know if it’s right for you? This webinar is what you are looking for.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: B1.1, B1.2, C1.1, C1.2.

Dates available at the moment:

Monday 15 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 12 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday 10 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

6. PREPOSITIONS AKK & DAT AND VERBS OF MOVEMENT

Part 1: Stellen or stehen? Legen or liegen? Sitzen or setzen? How to recognise the right verb.

Part 2: Can you put the bottle on the table? Where did you put the books? How to translate the verb “to put” in German depending on the context. A full immersion with practical exercises using the most common prepositional verbs.

Part 3: “warten auf” comes with accusative or dative? People vs. things. How do I say in German: what are you talking about or who are you talking to? 15 minutes of interactive exercises to remove any doubt.

Part 4: 20 minutes of role play in everyday contexts to use verbs with prepositions in everyday life.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A1.2, A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2

Dates available at the moment:

Tuesday 16 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 13th April /17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 11 May /17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

7. GERMAN FOR THE EVERY DAY LIFE 

You understand the main grammatical structures but you don’t know the vocabulary of the everyday life? What do you say when you are in a restaurant? at the post office? in a public office? or in a bank?
I would like to open an account, send a package, reserve a seat and do theAnmeldung!. 30 minutes of role play to learn how to express yourself correctly in everyday life. In this webinar you will also review the main grammar structures to be able to express yourself on a daily basis.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2.

Dates available at the moment:

Wednesday 17th March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 14 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 12 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

8. Modal verbs 

Do you know which is the correct modal verb to use if you want to express a wish or say what you can do or give an advice? In this webinar you will learn how to use modal verbs in the right place at the right time.
Part 1: Müssen o sollen? Wollen or möchten? Dürfen o können? when to use them and why.
Part 2: The sentence structure of modal verbs: affirmative, interrogative or negative sentences.
Part 3: Which modal verb to use if you want to give advice to a friend? 10 minutes of interactive exercises corrected by the teacher to use modals in everyday life.
Part 4: How to order a coffee in a bar, book a hotel or express a preference: 20 minutes of role-plays on topics from everyday life.
It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2.
Dates available at the moment:

Monday, 22 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, 19 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, 14 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

9. DATIVE OR AKKUSATIVE? THE GERMAN CASES.

Ich frage dich o dir? Ich sage dir o dich? This webinar is ideal for those who have doubts about when to use the accusative or the dative. 30 minutes of role-playing after the grammar explanation to eliminate every doubts.

Part 1: the cases in German and their function

Part 2: the dativ, its verbs and prepositions

Part 3: the accusative, its verbs and prepositions

Part 4: dative vs akkusativ: when should I use teh akkusativ and when should I use the dativ

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A1.2, A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B2.1.

Dates available at the moment:

Monday, 22 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, 19 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, 14 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

10. ADJECTIVE DECLENSION

Part 1: The adjective: when to decline it and when not to.

Part 2: To whom does it refer? The three declensions of the adjective.

Part 3: How to remember all the adjective endings without ever getting them wrong.

Part 4: Do you prefer the red jacket or the green one? 20 minutes of role play in real situations: at home, in the shop, at the supermarket, at work.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2

Dates available at the moment:

Tuesday 23 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 20 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 18 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

11. BUSINESS GERMAN 

Part 1: How to write an e-mail in German: the structure.

Part 2: Formal German: the header, greetings and courtesy formulas to use.

Part 3: Reading emails, business letters, credit notes.

Part 4: Selling and promoting a product: 20 minutes role-playing as a seller, buyer or supplier.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: B1.1, B1.2, B2.1, B2.2, C1.1, C1.2

Dates available at the moment:

Wednesday 24 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 21 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 19 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

12. KONJUNKTIV II  

Part 1: wir würden oder könnten? When to use them and why.

Part 2: Which subjunctives are most commonly used: practical examples for everyday life.

Part 3: The subjunctive in the affirmative, interrogative and negative sentence. The subjunctive to express an unreal hypothetical period.

Part 4: Can you make a suggestion? You want to invite a friend to dinner and you don’t know how to say it? 20 minutes of role play to use the subjunctive in everyday life.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B2.1, B2.2

Dates available at the moment:

Monday 1 March /17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, March 29 / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday, 26 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Monday. 24 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

13. The infinitive clauses in German

Ich gehe einkaufen or ich gehe einzukaufen? This webinar is meant to review the infinitive sentence in German and finally understand when to put “zu” and when it is not necessary. “Zu” or “um zu”? 90 minutes of role-playing games and targeted exercises to better understand their use.

Part 1: the infinitive sentence in German: its structure

Part 2: the difference between the infinitive and the infinitive with zu

Part 3: zu or um zu? The structure and the difference.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2

Dates available at the moment:

Tuesday 30 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 27 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 25 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

14. Medical German for doctorn and nurses

Are you a doctor or nurse and you want to learn the technical jargon to be able to express yourself correctly in the operating room, in the emergency room with patients and colleagues? 30 minutes of role-playing games in the different rooms of the hospital to learn how to express yourself better.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: B1.1, B1.2, C1.1, C1.2.

Dates available at the moment:

Wednesday 3 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 31 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 28th April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Wednesday 26 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

15. German for the job interview

Are you looking for a job and want to prepare yourself well for the interview? In this webinar you will get the chance to prepare yourself with trainers who can proofread your presentation and set it up correctly. You will learn how to make a good impression at the job interview using the right grammar structures and expressions. 30 minutes of role-plays to simulate the interviews.

It’s a recommended lesson for people with the following German level: B1.1, B1.2, C1.1, C1.2.

Tuesday 30 March / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 27 April / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 €

Tuesday 25 May / 17.40 – 19.10 – 18 € 

Price: 18€ (45 € if you book three different webinars)

Reserve your spot: info@berlinoschule.com

About the school

Our language school Berlino Schule has born in 2016 in Gryphiusstr. 23, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain. Since then the school had thousands of students onsite and online from every side of the world and collecting a very high average rating on Google (4.9 out of 5) and on Facebook (5 out of 5) with hundreds of reviews.

Are you looking for an online group German course?

Do you prefer to do a full intensive group course? Berlino Schule offers a whole range of German levels classes, from the beginner level (A1.1) to the most advanced ones (C2), as well as a guided preparation for the TELC exam (a highly requested certification from every German university).  After every online course, Berlino Schule will releases a certificate of attendance that can be attached to your personal résumé and sometimes covers some university language credits. Check out our calendar and write to info@berlinoschule.com to book a place.

 Are you looking for an onsite group German course?

Berlino Schule offers German onsite classes in its office in Berlin-Friedrichshain. You can find: intensive morning courses, intensive afternoon courses, extensive evening courses and private classes. You can find the calendar here. Write to info@berlinoschule.com to book a place.