The Present Perfect Tense with haben
The present perfect tense in German is formed just like the present perfect tense in English. In English, the present perfect consists of the verb have with a past participle. What's a past participle? With regular English verbs it looks just like the past tense:
hurry / hurried look / looked play / played
But irregular verbs take on a new form to create a participle:
buy / bought go / gone see / seen speak / spoken
When you combine the verb “have” with a past participle, you have the English present perfect tense. Look at the examples in Table 15-1.
Table 15-1. Formation of the Present Perfect Tense in English
German does the very same thing. You conjugate haben and follow it with a past participle. But how do you form a German past participle? It's quite easy. If you're working with a regular verb, drop the –en from the infinitive to get the stem: kaufen becomes kauf. Then add the prefix ge– and the suffix –t to the stem: kauf becomes gekauft. Now you have a past participle.
conjugated form of haben + past participle = present perfect tense
Be careful: If the stem of the verb ends in –t or –d, you have to add an extra –e before affixing the suffix. For example, the past participle of antworten is geantwortet.
Let's look at some other examples of regular verbs as past participles.
Table 15-2. Formation of Regular German Past Participles
Change the following infinitives to past participles.
kaufen [to buy] _______
stören [to disturb]_______
lehren [to teach] _______
bauen [to build] _______
stellen [to place] _______
setzen [to set] _______
reden [to talk] _______
baden [to bathe]_______
lachen [to laugh] _______
weinen [to cry] _______
When you use a form of the verb haben with the past participle, you have formed the present perfect tense. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.
There is a slight difference between German and English when it comes to this tense. When Germans want to express something in the past, they tend to use the present perfect tense: Er hat ein Haus gekauft. In English, however, people tend to use the simple past tense: He bought a house.
Do you recall how the future tense is formed by conjugating werden and placing an infinitive at the end of the sentence? The present perfect tense works the same way—the past participle goes at the end of the sentence.
Future: Andreas wird morgen Fußball spielen.(Andreas will play soccer tomorrow.)Present Perfect: Andreas hat gestern Fußball gespielt.(Andreas played soccer yesterday.)
Here are a few examples in German of sentences that use the past perfect tense.