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Lesson 5

Now that you are able to ask, answer and tell the most important things in the present tense, it is time to learn about telling something in the past tense. Unlike in English the tenses are not as strictly used in German. For example you can say "I have read a book yesterday" instead of "I read a book yesterday". There is no difference in meaning and although the first sentence might be grammatically wrong, in every-day German it is quite common. And that is what these lessons are all about: talking and understanding every-day language.

What you will learn here, is a tense that is called present perfect. In it you can express almost everything that happened in the past.

Use the following formula to construct a sentence:

personal pronoun + form of "haben" + past pariciple
ich + habe + gelesen = ich habe gelesen (I have read)

In a sentence that would look like this:
Ich habe gestern ein Buch gelesen. (I read a book yesterday)

Please notice: start with the personal pronoun and the form of "haben", then put the rest of the sentence and only at the end put the past participle.

ich habegelesenI have read (I read)
du hastgelesenyou have read (you read)
er hatgelesenhe has read (he read)
sie hatgelesenshe has read (she read)
es hatgelesenit has read (it read)
wir habengelesenwe have read (we read)
ihr habtgelesenyou have read (you read)
sie habengelesenthey have read (they read)
Sie habengelesenyou have read (you read)

Unlike in English, there are lots of ways to create the right past participle of a verb. Many of them have a "ge" somewhere in the form, like
gelesen = read
geliebt = loved
But also many of them haven't. So the best way to learn them, is to memorize them by heart. Here are the

past particples of some common words:

besuchenbesuchtich habe Dich besucht (I have visited you)
einladeneingeladenIch habe Dich eingeladen (I have invited you)
schreibengeschriebenIch habe Dir geschrieben (I have written to you)
hörengehörtIch habe es gehört (I have heard it)
sehengesehenIch habe es gesehen (I have seen it)
gebengegebenIch habe es Dir gegeben (I have given it to you)
nehmengenommenIch habe es genommen (I have taken it)
wollen/wünschengewollt/gewünschtI habe es gewollt/gewünscht (I have wanted/wished it)
fragengefragtIch habe Dich gefragt (I have asked you)
antwortengeantwortetIch habe Dir geantwortet (I have answered you)
sagengesagtIch habe es Dir gesagt (I have told you)
helfengeholfenIch habe Dir geholfen (I have helped you)
kostengekostetEs hat 5 DM gekostet (It has cost 5 marks - it was 5 marks)
redengeredetIch habe geredet (I have talked)
trinkengetrunkenIch habe viel getrunken (I have drunk a lot)
kaufengekauftIch habe es gekauft (I have bought it)
lachengelachtIch habe gelacht (I have laughed)
schlafengeschlafenIch habe geschlafen (I have slept)

All the verbs above are used with a form of "haben" in the present perfect tense, but there are some other verbs, that are treated differently.

With verbs like "gehen, kommen, schwimmen ... (go, come, swim ...)" you use a form of "sein" instead of "haben":

personal pronoun + form of "sein" + past participle

ich + bin + gekommen = ich bin gekommen (I have come)

The past participles of these words are:

gehen = gegangen (gone)
kommen = gekommen (come)
schwimmen = geschwommen (swum)
bleiben = geblieben (stayed)
sein = gewesen (been)
verschwinden = verschwunden (disappeared)

Here are the

forms of "sein (to be)"

in case you don't remember them:
ich binI amIch bin gekommen ( I have come)
du bistyou aredu bist gegangen (you have gone)
er isthe iser ist geschwommen (he has swum)
sie istshe issie ist geblieben (she has stayed)
es istit ises ist geboren (it is born)
wir sindwe arewir sind hier gewesen (we have been here)
ihr seidyou areihr seid verschwunden (you have disappeared)
sie sindthey are sie sind spazieren gegangen (they have walked - they have gone for a walk)
Sie sindyou areSie sind einkaufen gegangen (you have gone shopping)

some useful words for the "past"

the day before yesterdayvorgestern
last yearletztes Jahr
last weekletzte Woche
the last timedas letzte Mal
one year/month agovor einem Jahr/Monat
one week agovor einer Woche
last Sunday/ Monday/ Tuesday/ Wednesday/ Thursday/ Friday/ Saturdayletzten Sonntag/ Montag/ Dienstag/ Mittwoch/ Donnerstag/ Freitag/ Samstag

To make it easy for you, it is best to use the above words in the following way:
Letzte Woche habe ich Mark und Christine geschrieben -
last week i have written to Mark and Christine.

Please notice:The order of words is different to the English language. Try to use it this way:
"words for the time like yesterday..." + form of "haben" or "sein" + personal pronoun + everything else like "Dich,, dein Haus, ..." + past participle.
If you are more fluent in German, you can use the other word orders as well. The meaning is slightly different each time. They are:
Ich habe letzte Woche Mark und Christine eingeladen.
Mark und Christine habe ich letzte Woche eingeladen.
Ich habe Mark und Christine letzte Woche eingeladen.

If everything is more or less clear now, then you can proceed with the Test.

Good luck!

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