The "Perfekt" is the most used past tense in German.
The "Perfekt" is used in spoken and non-formal written language with non-modal verbs.
The "Perfekt" is the most used verb tense for referring to past actions in German. It is used for 3 situations:
Theory says that, for a past action without any relation to the present, the Präteritum should be used. In practice, however, this is only true for the written language and modal verbs. The Perfekt is used in the spoken language (or in non-formal written language) with non-modal verbs. Perfekt is used more in southern German and Präteritum is used more often in northern Germany.
Er hat gestern Fußball gespielt
He played soccer yesterday
If the action continues in the present, the use of the Perfekt is mandatory.
Wir sind nach Spanien gereist
We travelled to Spain (and we still are there)
To give "Perfekt" this connotation of being in the future, it is necessary to add a temporal particle that indicates the future. This may seem a bit odd to you.
Ich habe es nächste Woche geschafft
I'll have it done next week
The conjugation of the "Perfekt" is easy enough. It is constructed with the verb "sein" or "haben" in the present indicative + "Partizip II" of the verb.
Ich habe ein Bild gemalt
I have painted/ I painted a picture
Sie ist schon angekommen
She has already arrived / She arrived already
- "Sein" is only used as an auxiliary verb:
- The auxiliary verb "haben" is used in all other cases.
- There are some verbs that can be transitive or intransitive depending on the sentence which is why they will sometimes have sein or haben as auxiliary verbs. Examples that we have are:
fahren (to drive), biegen (to turn), verderben (to spoil), brechen (to break), fliegen (to fly), treten (to step on, to go), schneiden (to separate, to cut), reiten (to ride).
It depends on what type of verb you are dealing with:
ge - (VERB STEM) -(e)t
An "-e-" between the stem and the final "-t" is added with some verbs (for more details, see the present indicative)
(SEPARABLE PREFIX) - ge - (VERB STEM) -(e)t
|auf-rund-en||auf-ge-rund-e-t||to round up|
|ein-kauf-en||ein-ge-kauf-t||to go shopping|
(INSEPARABLE PREFIX) - (VERB STEM) -(e)t
(VERB STEM) -t
|studier-en||studier-t||to study (at the University)|
Many of the irregular verbs follow the construction:
ge - (VERB STEM) -(e)n
But, unfortunately, most irregular verbs do not follow any easy rule to learn:
This link has most of the irregular verbs' participles in German.
The construction of the passive voice in the "Perfekt" consists of:
[sein conjugated in the present] + PARTIZIP II + worden.
As a reminder: "Worden" is the Partizip II of the verb "werden" when it acts as an auxiliary verb.
If the sentence in the active voice in the "Perfekt" is:
He has read a book
Er hat ein Buch gelesen
The equivalent sentence in the passive voice would be:
The book has been read by him
Das Buch ist von ihm gelesen worden
Verb haben + THE INFINITIVE OF THE FULL VERB + THE INFINITIVE OF THE MODAL VERB
Er hat nicht fliegen wollen
He hasn't wanted to fly / He didn't want to fly
Verb haben + PARTIZIP II OF THE MODAL VERB
Er hat nicht gewollt
He didn't want to / He hasn't wanted to