Comparing English and German in the Past Tense
As English-speaking kids grow up, they make mistakes. Little Johnny might say, “I drinked all my milk, Mom.” But he's only five years old. In time, he'll know that the past tense of “drink” is “drank.”
Kids who grow up speaking German do the same thing. For a while they form all their past tense verbs like regular verbs, with a –te ending. But eventually they begin to remember the irregularities and use the past tense of these verbs correctly.
And you will do the same thing. You'll discover that German irregular past tense forms follow the pattern of English past tense forms very closely.
Let's look at a list of some frequently used verbs so you can see what happens in both languages. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.
Table 13-7. Irregular Verbs in English and German
Remember that the simple past tense (das Imperfekt) is used in narratives and to show repetition.
What are some of the verbs that require stem changes in the past tense? Table 13-8 is a list of some common verbs that are irregular in the past tense. Notice how many of them follow a pattern similar to the English past tense. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.
Table 13-8. Irregular Past Tense Stems