How to Use Present Perfect Tense With Haben in German

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    • 1). Understand that, in German, the majority of verbs use yje auxiliary verb haben (to have) to form the present perfect tense, with the past participle at the end of the sentence. For example, the verb essen (to eat) takes haben in present perfect tense. The past participle of essen is “gegessen.” Haben conjugated to first person present singular is “ich habe.” The sentence “I have eaten the apple” translates to “Ich habe den Apfel gegessen.”

    • 2). Recognize most German verbs as weak, meaning that the past participles end in –t. Examples include the verbs denken, fragen, kaufen and sagen. Take the verb kaufen (to buy). Take the stem of the verb (kauf-), add the prefix ge-, and add the ending –t. The past participle is “gekauft.” “I have bought the car” translates to “Ich habe das Auto gekauft.”

    • 3). If the verb stem ends in –d or –t, add an –e before the –t ending. For example, take the verb antworten (to answer). The stem is “antwort-.” Add the prefix ge- to the stem to make “geantwort-.” Add an –e before the –t ending to get “geantwortet.” The present perfect sentence “I answered the question” translates to “Ich habe die Frage geantwortet.”

    • 4). Know that, in German, mixed verbs take the –t ending but change their stems. For example, take the verb bringen (to bring). The stem changes to “brach-.” Add the ge- prefix and –t ending to get the past participle “gebracht.” I bring is “Ich bringe.” The present perfect “Ich brachte” means “I brought.”

    • 5). Learn that verbs ending in “-ireren" take the –t ending but do not take the ge- prefix. The past participle of the verb kontrollieren (to discuss) is “kontrolliert.” The present perfect sentence “We (have) controlled the proceedings" translates to “Wir haben das Geschehen kontrollieren.”

    • 6). Realize that, in German, strong verbs take –en endings in past participle form. Such verbs include essen, geben, lessen, schlafen, sehen and trinken. Many of these verbs also change stems in past participle form. Take the verb trinken (to drink). The past participle is “getrunken.” The sentence “I have drunk too much coffee” translates to “Ich habe zu viel Kaffee getrunken.”

    • 7). Observe that inseparable prefix verbs take an –en ending but not the ge- prefix. Inseparable prefix verbs start with be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, ver- or zer-. Take the verb beginnen (to begin). The stem changes to began-. Add –en to get “begonnen.” "I began my homework" translates to “Ich habe meine Hausaufgaben begonnen.”

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