German Past Tense 2 – the Spoken Past

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German is Easy – Online Course.
And today we’ll continue to look at the German past. Let’s quickly recap.

There are 2 forms of past: the spoken past and the written past. Every verb has either form but which one is used depends on 2 things: which verb are we talking about and in which „mode“ of language is it used. Luckily 99,8 percent of all verbs do follow the same pattern – they use spoken past in spoken language and written past in written language as in novels. Only a few verbs use the written past also in spoken language. Using the spoken past for those would sound awkward. Anyway… part 1 talks in all detail about this and if you haven’t read it then you should read it… I mean of course listen to the mp3.doc here.

So… Today we will deal with the spoken past and to get started, here is an example:

  • Ich habe mir gestern einen neuen Schlauch für mein Fahrrad gekauft.
  • I bought a new inner tube for my bike yesterday.

As we can see we need 2 things for the spoken past: a helper verb and what I call the ge-form of the verb. Now you’re like „Gee… what form??“ so let’s talk about this first and find out how it is built and also WHY it is built that way.

The ge-form

In official grammar-jargon the ge-form is called past party symbol. It is not entirely clear to me why it is called that but I have to say that it is a surprisingly modern sounding name in the otherwise so Latin-heavy linguistic terminology. Unfortunately, it sounds too much like past participle and this might be confusing so we will call it the ge-form. Ok seriously, the name past participle is actually one of the grammatical terms worth knowing and it is a really tremendously useful form. In German it is used for the spoken past.

  • Ich habe ein paar Eier gekocht.
  • I have boiled some eggs.

It can be an adjective.

  • Ich mag gekochte Eier lieber als Rührei.
  • I like boiled eggs better than scrambled egg (lit.)

And it is also used for passive.

  • Die Eier werden gekocht.
  • The eggs are being boiled.

So… you can do a lot with this form. And this is not only the case in German. The past participle is equally useful in many other languages including Finnish and the rules how to build this form is one of the first things that I look up when I learn a new language. By the way… if you’re wondering what the past participle is in English: it is the third form of this 3-form verb scheme…

  • go – went – gone
  • see – saw – seen
  • download – downloaded – downloaded

Alright…  I will call it ge-form from now on because it is just a little more intuitive how is it done in German? Well… the standard rule is simple: remove the en-ending of the verb, add a ge in the beginning and a t at the end. And sometimes you have to remove the umlaut.

  • machen (to make)                – ge + mach + t
  • kaufen (to buy)                     – ge + kauf + t
  • können (to be able to)        – ge + konn + t

Now, before the 15th century, the spoken past didn’t exist. It was then, that people started “inventing” it for whatever reason. The past participle back then had no ge yet. The ge  actually used to be a “normal” non-separable prefix just like ver or ent. The meaning of the ge as a prefix was very broad and I can’t really wrap my mind around it but it did have of a notion of completion. So, just as Germans started to use the previously unheard of spoken past they also started adding the ge  to the past participle of basic verbs that didn’t … maybe just to give them said notion of completion. Over time the ge-form developed as a rule and the original prefix-meaning of ge almost disappeared. It is still visible in words like gefrieren (to freeze) or gelingen (to turn out as a success).

  • Das Wasser gefriert.
  • The water is freezing.
  • Das Projekt gelingt.
  • The project turns out a success.

So … the ge-form is somewhat of a coincidence and it could have been another prefix as well. The main thing it does anyway is adding an extra unstressed easy to pronounce syllable to the word. Like an up beat in music. It gives the following stress more impact because it had build up.

  • ge –kauft
  • “dit  DUNNNNt”

Kids hear and produc    e this rhythmical change before they actually realize the ge. They say things like:

  • Ich bin hin –ne-falln
  • I fell down.
  • Mamma hat die Tür auf-fe-macht.

Keep this rhythm aspect in mind. We’ll get back to it laterrrrr. Alright… so adding ge in front and t to the end is the default way to construct the ge-form of a verb and this rule applies for a large part of all German verbs but there are exceptions. Of course. The bad thing is that the irregular forms are the ones you will use most in daily conversation so to you as a beginner it will seem like EVERY verb has an irregular ge-form.  There are 2 main deviations of the rule. Some verbs end in –en instead of t.

  • essen (to eat)                          – ge + g + ess +en (the second g is ust a filler so as to not have double e)
  • lassen (to let, to leave)     – ge + lass + en
  • geben (to give)                    – ge + geb + en

The second thing that makes irregular forms irregular is a change of the stem-vowel, with occasional “adjustments” of the surrounding letters… and boy oh boy are there possibilities.

  • nehmen (to take)                  – genommen
  • ziehen (to pull)                      – gezogen
  • riechen (to smell)                 – gerochen
  • denken  (to think)                – gedacht
  • trinken  (to drink)                – getrunken
  • wissen (to know)                   – gewusst
  • kennen (the other, different to know)   – gekannt

So is there a system that helps with this? Well for a “systematic” approach if you want you can look into the whole over-hyped “weak verb – strong verb” nonsen… uhm theory (which no German knows about). That won’t save you from having to learn for EACH verb whether it is weak or strong and which vowel-change happens (there are half a dozen tables for this). I think the benefit of those additional very abstract rules t be very marginal and I would recommend to just accept it as random and learn the ge-forms by constant repetition. I mean they are ones you will see all the time in the beginning anyway. I will give you an exercise at the end of this post. There are 2 rules of thumb that I can give you however… if there is a vowel change in English (see-saw-seen) there is a fair chance that it is irregular in German too. But regular English doesn’t imply regular German. And then, if there is a vowel change in German there is a good chance for it to end with -en. But not always. Bottom line of this… most German verbs have a regular ge-form and they will look like this

  • verben – geverbt

Many of the most important verb have irregular forms, stem change, -en-ending or both and you should just learn those without trying to make too much sense of it. But learn them you should. Anyway… if you can’t think of a ge-form or you have actually never seen it before then: Use the Rule!!!

  • Ich habe gedenkt.

This is wrong but every German can understand it and it is better to just say this with confidence than to stop and search for the correct form. “gedenke.. no gedank uh..gedunken???”  Instead of interrupting the conversation for half a minute and turn your statement into an unrelated language question just say it wrong! It is fine; no one will laugh. The other person will probably find it cute. And then later that night you will get the chance to find out more about the German crot.. uh culture while having hot steaming se… uh servings of coffee (oh my… that was close). So… when in doubt just say it wrong and when the other person corrects you, repeat the corrected version so as to train your brain. The ge-forms have to come out automatically and they will. Just give it some time and make an effort learning. Alright… now before we can get to the helper verb we need to talk about another thing.

Ge-form and separable prefixes

Many German verbs consist of a basic verb like nehmen and one of our 1.762.431* prefixes (* number is an estimate by a level A1 student). And as you may know there are weakly linked and strongly linked prefixes (if you need to brush up on that read this).
Now… let’s deal with weakly linked verbs first. Their ge-form looks as follows:

prefix + ge-form of the basic verb

  • Ich habe mein Kind vom Kindergarten abgeholt.
  • I picked up my child from the kindergarten.
  • Ich bin am Montag umgezogen.
  • I moved on Monday (to a new flat).
  • Ich habe den Herd ausgemacht.
  • I have turned off the stove.
  • Ich habe mein Bier noch nicht ausgetrunken.
  • I haven’t finished my beer yet.

And now you ask .. whyyyyyyyy? Why isn’t it geaustrunken and geabholt? Why do I have to fit the ge in the middle of the word? Well, this actually makes perfect sense and it is an example for a principle that you will see over and over in German… the second to last jump. You know that if your verb has more than one part in German the first part goes in position 2 and all the rest goes to the end of the clause.

  • Ich mache den Herd aus.
  • I turn off the stove.

So here our verb consist of the parts mache and aus because ausmachen has a weak link, which breaks easily. Now, if we want to put this into spoken past we need to introduce a helper verb – in this case haben. Haben now kicks mache out of position 2 while slapping a ge to it.  So we have

  • Ich habe den Herd aus.    and a kind of homeless  gemacht

Now where does this gemacht go? It goes to the very end of course. Note, that I am not touching anything else in the sentence. Nothing moves except for machen.

  • Ich habe den Herd aus     gemacht.   becomes
  • Ich habe den Herd ausgemacht.

And it is just by convention that it is now again written as one word. As if there is magnetic force between aus and macht. I don’t want to get too much into that right now but this ausmachen-example is not much different than this:

  • Abwaschen macht mir  Spaß.
  • Doing dishes is fun to me (lit).
  • I enjoy doing dishes.

Spaß machen is never written as one word and yet it is kind of a fixed expression. Now if we put this in past we get

  • Abwaschen hat mir Spaß gemacht.

Just as before the haben kicked the machen from position 2 and turned it into the ge-form. Gemacht then had nowhere to go so it goes where all the verb leftovers go… to the end. It is not written as one word this time but the reason is simply a convention. Sometimes even Germans don’t know what to do.

  • Ich habe viele Leute kennengelernt.
  • Ich habe viele Leute kennen    gelernt.
  • I met many people.

Both versions are correct according to out current writing “law” because there are arguments for and against writing it as one word. So … as you can see, having the ge between the weakly linked prefix and the rest of the basic verb is completely natural while geabholt wouldn’t be. And to bring back the idea of rhythm… a separable prefix is always stressed –  even more than is the stem syllable.

  • AUFmachen
  • MITbringen

Having the ge in between yields a nice stressed-unstressed-stressed-pattern… something very common for German.

  • AUF – ge – MACHT
  • “DUNN dit DUNNN”

The other version would be

  • ge-AUF-MACHT
  • dit DUNN DUNN

and that is just not feeling as smooth and groovy. So .. ge in the middle makes sense logically and on top of that it sounds nice :).

Ge-form and non-separable prefixes

Now let’s move on to the strongly linked prefixes – the ones that don’t split.

  • Ich verkaufe mein altes Handy.
  • I sell my old sell-phone (pun intended).

The spoken past of this is:

  • Ich habe mein altes Handy verkauft.
  • I sold my old cell-phone.

Or some other exaples…

  • Thomas hat Marias Geburtstag vergessen.
  • Thomas forgot Maria’s birthday.
  • Die Werbung hat nicht zuviel versprochen.
  • The ad has not promised too much.
  • Ich habe gestern einen 3-Jahres-Vertrag unterschrieben.
  • I signed a 3 year contract yesterday.
  • Thomas hat den Text auf Deutsch übersetzt.
  • Thomas has translated the text into German

The glaring question here is … why is there no ge??? Well… I don’t exactly know but here is my theory. Unlike the weak-ly linked ones the non-separable prefixes are never stressed.

  • ver – GESS – en
  • ent – SCHEI – den
  • ver –KAUF– en

A direct comparison:

  • ver SCHREI ben  (prescribe)
  • AUF schrei ben   (write down)

And an even morer, directer, comparisoner (is that right??):

  • um STEL len     (surround… for instance police a building)
  • UM stel len          (put from one place/setting to another place/setting)

So for the non-separable verbs we already have this groovy up beat feeling that the ge added to the other verbs.

  • dit DUNNN (dun)

We have also established that the ge used to be a non-separable prefix too and it had a meaning, which it just lost over the centuries. So I can see why people back then would not add a prefix with a meaning to another strongly linked prefix with a different meaning… that would have been confusing back then. And it is not needed for this nice ge-form rhythm after all. Let’s look at this in practice one again, with the stress indicated by like THIS (and blinking).

  • Die Polizei hat das Gebäude  umSTELLT (“dit DUNNN” .. nice dramatic finish)
  • The police has surrounded the building.
  • Ich habe meine Uhr auf Sommerzeit UMgeSTELLt (“DUNN dit DUNNN”… just epic)
  • I set my watch to summer time.

As I said before, this is just my personal theory so if you happen know anything about this, please share it with us here. Now, what about verbs that have a separable prefix AND a non-separable prefix? What? Oh you didn’t know those existed? Oh I am soooo sorry :)… they do…

  • Erst wollt eich einen Kaffee, aber ich habe mich umentschieden. Ich nehme Tee.
  • First I wanted a coffee, but then I reconsidered. I go for tea.
  • Thomas hat 3 Karten für die Oper vorbestellt.
  • Thomas has reserved 3 tickets for the opera.
  • Ich habe meine Wohnung untervermietet.
  • I sublet my flat.

I think you get it without further explanation…

So… wow… that was a lot already. Let’s quickly summarize all of it.

if the verb has a separable prefix  the ge is between prefix and the rest
(aufgemacht, eingekauft, vorgestellt)

if the prefix is not separable then there will be no ge. Just the prefix and the ending
(verstanden, verkauft, bestellt)

And I should probably also mention:  if you know the ending and vowel change of a basic verb this will be the case for ALL prefix versions. For denken we have dacht as a stem

  • Ich habe nachgedacht.
  • I have done some thinking.
  • Ich habe das bedacht.
  • I did take this into consideration.

What did I take into consideration you ask? Well this…

One more exception

There is one group of verbs that has no prefixes and doesn’t take a ge anyway… all the ones ending in –ieren. Those are somehow all based on Latin and I am sure you understand many of them without having seen them before.

  • fotografieren, probieren, transportieren, echauffieren, parlieren, kopieren

The ge-form on those should actually be called the ”  -form” because they just get a t at the end and that’s it.

  • Ich habe den Baum fotografiert.
  • I have taken a picture of the tree.
  • Ich habe das nicht kapiert.
  • I didn’t understand that.

And again this begs the following question: why???? We could assume that the ge-system developed before the Germans got in touch with the Roman language but this is not very likely because German is very quick with inventing ge-forms for all kinds of imported words.

  • Ich habe dein Foto geliked (we don’t know how to spell this yet… here a debate )
  • I have liked your picture (as in: on Facebook).
  • Ich habe gestern mit meiner Mutter geskyped.
  • Ich habe mich eingeloggt.

Where were we coming from? Oh right… why don’t the Latin verbs have a ge? So the reason is not, that they came into the German language too late. But rhythm is the key  – again. The main stress for those verbs is ALWAYS on the  iersyllable.

  • fotogra-FIEren
  • ko –PIE – ren
  • individuali- SIE-ren

So compared to the average basic German verb ( HAben) , all the stuff before IE is kind of one looooong non-separable prefix and it doesn’t make sense to add a ge to it. After ge a German expects a syllable with a strong stress. For the ieren-words this wouldn’t be the case. So that makes it weird sounding and ge feels out of place there. This is different for those English words we had earlier. They do have an emphasized syllable right after the ge and that’s why it is so easy and natural for a German native speaker to do it that way. So … I hope you get an impression of how important rhythm is to German and possibly to any language. Grammar rules are nice and all but people talk in a way that feels right and rhythm plays a huge role there. Ok… so now we know everything about the ge-form  all we need to do is to pick the right helper verb.

Haben or sein – pick the right helper

This question seems to bug many students of German but it really is not that hard to answer. The helper verb is either haben or sein. This can be also seen in Roman languages but the rules when to use which are a little different. Basically you must to use sein whenever you are talking about a movement of yourself that focuses on your being in a different location after than you were before. The prime example is gehen.

  • Ich bin in den Park gegangen.
  • I went to the park.

Here are some others:

  • to fly :         fliegen – geflogen
  • to swim :    schwimmen – geschwommen
  • to jump:     springen – gesprungen
  • to fall:         fallen – gefallen

And here are some less obvious ones:

  • to get up:                     aufstehen – aufgestanden
  • to rise (sun):               aufgehen – aufgegangen
  • to move (new flat):  umziehen – umgezogen
  • to travel :                     reisen        – gereist

The reason why we can’t just say “verbs of movement” is that for instance tanzen (to dance) does not work with sein although your whole body is moving.

  • Ich habe getanzt.
  • I danced.

The focus of to dance is not your being in some location before and some other after that. And if you dance from the bar to your house? Well, then it is sein of course.

  • Ich bin von der Bar nach Hause getanzt.

A similar kind of inverted example is fahren. The default fahren works with sein.

  • Ich bin gestern mit meinem Bruder nach München gefahren.
  • I went to Munich with my brother yesterday (by car).

However, if you just go to Munich to drop of your brother there and then you head right back the focus shifts.

  • Ich habe gestern meinen Bruder nach München gefahren.
  • I drove my brother to Munich yesterday.

In grammar-nerd-speak we could also say, whenever you have an accusative object it is DEFINITELY going to be haben. … and definitely as in mostly… because… you know… the exceptions. But they’re few.
Anyway… I hope you get the idea. Now, there are some verbs that are not really physical movements but rather movements of the soul. They also work with sein.

  • Ich bin eingeschlafen.
  • I fell asleep.
  • Marie ist  aufgewacht.
  • Marie woke up.
  • Maries Hund ist gestorben.
  • Marie’s dog died.
  • Ich bin gestern 30 geworden.
  • I turned 30 yesterday.

And then there is THE BIG exception to the whole idea of movement…. to stay. Yes, bleiben also needs a form of sein.

  • Ich bin gestern abend zuhause geblieben.
  • I stayed home yesterday.

This just doesn’t make any sense but we’ll have to accept it. Oh and the verb sein itself also needs sein as a helper. Why does sein need a helper verb you ask? Because, remember, EVERY verb has either form of the past – a spoken past and a written past.

  • Ich bin schon 3 mal in Paris gewesen.
  • I‘ve been to Paris 3 times already.

This doesn’t sound very nice though and I would use the written past for sein. So… for the verbs we just saw and some others that are similar, use sein and for AAAAAAALLLL the rest, use haben! So… that’s it. That is the German spoken past. You need to know the ge-form. If you don’t know it, you can ALWAYS use the default ge-verbt and be understood and corrected. And you need to know whether to use haben or sein. This seems like a lot but it is just a question of getting used to it. You just need practice. I’d say these things have to come out without thought before it makes sense to delve deeper into German and start worrying about, say, cases. Getting an article wrong is a but a glitch in comparison to a wrong spoken past. And also, the spoken past will constantly train you in the whole verb-at-the-end-concept. If I say

  • Gestern habe ich, als ich im Supermarkt war, meine Ex-Freundin ___
  • Yesterday, when I was in the supermarket I ___ my ex girlfriend.

you have NOOO clue yet as to what I actually did. Did I see her? Did I call her? Did I kiss her? You will never know. It is the ge-form that tells you what actually happened and this means that you need to pay attention to it when listening to people. Alright… so you need to practice a lot and to get you started here is an exercise where you have a lot of irregular verb forms. As always, the solutions are given on the right, so all you have to do is cover it with you hand and then read it off the page in past tense. And read out loud! And when you are done with the page… do it again! And then, again. And again. And again… until you don’t need to think anymore.

And that’s it for today… next time we’ll look at the written past and find out which verbs use it even in spoken German. If you have any questions regarding the article or the exercise or if I made a bad mistake somewhere, please leave me a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Click here to download all audio files (zip-archive, mp3 files)

4.8 39 votes
Article Rating

Newsletter for free?!

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Your Thoughts and Questions

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
208 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Halbri
Halbri
5 months ago

Just a comment to my previous comment:
You can/should omit the commas in the following:
“And an even more, direct, comparison” is correct, so that it reads
“And an even more direct comparison” is correct. (Or at any rate, is ‘more’ correct. OK, that’s redundant, but accurate. More accurate?)

Halbri
Halbri
5 months ago

“And an even morer, directer, comparisoner (is that right??)”
I assume that’s to be taken as humor. If, however, you were being serious, (and since this is a “serious” language learning site), the answer is, “no that’s not right”.

“And an even more, direct, comparison” is correct.
(I think you were just being modest. Weren’t you?)

Heto27
Heto27
5 months ago

In your exercise sheet, in the “Dazu trinke ich eine Cola Zero”, could you explain what this “Dazu” means? I’ve seen places saying its kinda like “on top of that”, but I’m not sure if it is that indeed. Also, the verb before the pronoun (obviously) confuses me also.
Thanks in advance.

Heto27
Heto27
5 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks for the reply, I get it now! As for the last article I’ll get there as soon as I finish with the past tenses :)

Sannah2004
7 months ago
  • Erst wollt eich einen Kaffee, aber ich habe mich umentschieden. Ich nehme Tee.

eich =ich (außer es ist der Eich ;)

John
John
9 months ago

Sie sagen, dass ein Verb beide trennbar und nicht trennbar Präfix haben kann. Kann ein Verb mehr als zwei Präfixen haben? Vielen Dank für deine Lektionen!

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ja das hilft mir, vielen Dank, aber ich habe auch gemeint: Kann ein Verb mehr als zwei Präfixe haben? Drei oder mehr? Gibt es Verben wie vorbezukommen ( eigentlich kein Wort ;-) ), die drei Präfixe haben?

FRANCIS
FRANCIS
11 months ago

Hi ! I’m a new subscriber and thank you for your supergreatfaboulus blog.

“Ich habe alles verstanden, was du hast gesagt” > wrong
Ich habe alles verstanden, was du gesagt hast ” > right

I don’t understand why the first sentence is wrong.
What’s the rule ?

Thank you !

FRANCIS
FRANCIS
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thank you very much Emanuel for your answer.

But, to me, in this sentence :
“Ich habe alles verstanden, was du gesagt hast ”

the helper verb( hast) moves to the end, not The verb (gesasgt)
This is the reason it’s not very clear for me…

first part : “Ich habe alles verstanden
yes, the verb moves to the end

second half (after the comma) : “,was du gesagt hast”
to me, the verb is not at the end.

I’m sorry for my confusion.

But I guess I have to study “the subordinates” right now…
and I’m happy with that in advance, because studying German becomes (finally!) a pleasure, thanks to you !

FRANCIS
FRANCIS
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Got it !
It’s super clear now
Thank you

Elysee
Elysee
11 months ago

I have another question:) Why the verb “fahren” would be and inverted example than “tanzen”, if I am moving from one point to another?

Elysee
Elysee
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Got it! Thank you so much!

Elysee
Elysee
11 months ago

Hi, hello. Well I have a doubt about the  verbs that have a separable prefix and a non-separable prefix. I don’t think I quite got it.

Elysee
Elysee
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I am quite lost, so I am sorry if it seems silly but, when you say they’re separable and non-separable, how do they behave and work?, and also, I didn’t see any “ge” prefix so I am assuming they work like non-separable and we just get the end change(?) I think my main doubt is how are the separable and non-separable at the same time, how do they work and behave, do they exist also in present time and if in spoken past they don’t get the “ge”, but only the end change..?

Thanks and excuse the trouble, please

Elysee
Elysee
11 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ooooooooooh! Now I get it! Thank you so much, Emanuel.

alphawell
alphawell
1 year ago

Hi, Ace, thanks for your efforts to maintain this amazing site.
I know you’re savoring your vacation at the moment, but when time’ll permit, could you please shed the light on some subtleties in the exercise?

In der Küche riecht es nach Kuchen
Mir fällt grade etwas ein

I suppose that these two sentences are different from others because to compose a past version, the original word order have to undergo a substantial modification (unlike the rest sentences). Like in the first one, I assume the correct answer is:

Es hat in der Küche nach Kuchen gerochen.

And in the second:

Etwas hat mir gerade eingefallen.

Corrections, as well as explanations are appreciated.

alphawell
alphawell
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yep, that makes perfect sense.
But do the versions I proposed sound equally correct or not?

JPT
JPT
1 year ago

This Beta Train Your Pronunciation tool is pretty handy, good addition.

JPT
JPT
1 year ago
Reply to  JPT

The one minor irritation with it is when you want to make another try, you have to confirm the action with a second click, that could be removed.

Starbuck
Starbuck
1 year ago

I have two questions. The first one I think I understand but would just like some confirmation:

  1. Do we use haben for ziehen (umziehen, ausziehen, anziehen, etc) and sein for sich ziehen (sich umziehen, sich ausziehen, sich einziehen etc)? In other words, if I’m putting on clothes it’s haben and if I’m moving house it’s sein?

The second question is more of a weird two-parter…

2a) My housemates definitely both use “ich bin gesessen”, and we had a conversation about it recently, so on the test I wrote, “Ich bin in der U-Bahn gesessen und habe Pommes mit viel Ketchup gegessen.” So would this be the correct formulation of this sentence if I wanted to use sein instead of haben?

2b) I’m assuming there is a regional difference in the use of haben and sein, so with that in mind, does it sound really weird if the wrong one is used? I aim to always use the correct one, but I really want to understand how the meaning changes when I get it wrong. I’m still not sure my brain has a good grip on the difference between bin gefahren and habe gefahren, for example. But maybe I just need to keep repeating it and reading examples until it clicks.

wallisgreen
wallisgreen
1 year ago

Hi I moved to Berlin when I was 51 to continue teaching high school mathematics. I had not studied a language for over 25 years and even though I put forth a lot of effort my progress was slow. I left Berlin when I turned 65 and could no longer teach and worked in 5 different countries on 4 different continents still teaching mathematics.I continued to study German on my own. Now I am back living in Berlin and of course, want to keep improving. I am finding your website so much fun! I like very much the way that you explain things. I read almost entirely in German and have many German friends but through the years my writing has taken a nose dive as well as the grammar rules. I like your approach very much as it seems to me to stress the things that are most important to know. You explain the grammar in such a fun way. I look forward to working on the lessons and reading and studying the other things that you provide. I think it is great that you give us other sources to use a long with your website. I am so glad that I discovered your website and hope that if I keep working my German will continue to improve and improve! Vielen Dank und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

Kejdi
Kejdi
1 year ago

Bruh, it took me 10 minutes to realize that “past party symbol” wasn’t a real thing, and it was just past participle. I was trying to differentiate between “past party symbol” and “past participle” in my notes xD

g.orbeliani
g.orbeliani
2 years ago

Sometimes even Germans don’t know what to do. << OMG :D:D:D I am dying

tmurrin1979
tmurrin1979
2 years ago

I just had a quick question about your “ex-girlfriend” example, and I notice myself doing this sometimes while writing to my German friends. That is, the main idea of the sentence uses the ge-form but the extra info in the middle uses the preterite form “war”. Is this common to use both forms in the same sentence, or should one try to stick to one or the other?

Really enjoying your course so far! I’ve taken the Duolingo German course, and while it’s fun it’s often hard to discover WHY things work as they do, especially in later lessons. Your course hits a lot of the points that were missing in my early studies. And your sense of humor is great! I find myself laughing quite a bit while reading, and it reminds me to not put too much pressure on myself while I’m learning the language. Thank you!

Edit: I clicked to the next lesson and wasn’t more than a paragraph in and it was answered lol… Talk about a quick reply! ;)

Apoorva
Apoorva
2 years ago

Hi there, a short question, why is it “Der Film hat mir sehr gut gefallen.” and not “Der Film habe mir sehr gut gefallen.” ? Sorry if its a basic question, I’m just starting out. :)

Apoorva
Apoorva
2 years ago

Thank you for making all your blogs so detailed. They are really helpful. Although I feel so vulnerable when I read the comments section, people ask such intricate questions and understand the subject in depth. Assuming they are at a similar level as I am, it makes me feel a bit of a “Stumpf” LoL. Sorry there isn’t a question here but maybe I just had to share my feelings.

Stefano Carreno
Stefano Carreno
2 years ago

And what if I have two verbs in a sentence? Like in your example ( in the exercise sheet) “Ich sitze in der U-bahn und esse Pommes mit viel Ketchup”. Do I use just one “habe” at the beginning ( Ich habe in der U-bahn gesessen und Pommes mit viel Ketchup gegessen) or each verb needs its own “habe”( Ich habe in der U-bahn gesessen und habe Pommes mit viel Ketchup gegessen).
Thanks!!

Ahmd
Ahmd
2 years ago

this is very informative thanks, keep up the good work.

Jingwen
Jingwen
2 years ago

Hi Emanuel, Could you analyze the sentence “Mir fällt grade etwas ein” in the exercise? Why the helper word is “ist” instead of “hat”? I lookup “eingefallen” in the dictionary. It seems to mean “occur”, which have nothing to do with “going somewhere”. Is it an exception that we just need to use “sein” helper word or am I understanding the sentence (it occurs to me) wrong?