Past Tense - Use


You use the Past Tense for:

1. actions or situations finished in the past (single or repeated)
    Example:   Er besuchte seine Mutter letzte Woche.
    Phonetic Script:   [e:ɐ bə'zu:xtə 'zainə 'mʊtɐ 'lɛtstə 'vɔxə]
    English:   He visited his mother last week.
2. a state in the past which is described
    Example:   Sie sprach Deutsch.
    Phonetic Script:   [zi: ʃpra:x dɔytʃ]
    English:   She spoke German.
3. the description of actions and states in written texts in newspapers, magazines and literary works like novels, short stories, fairy tales etc.)
    Example:   Es war einmal ein König und eine Königin, die lebten in Frieden.
    Phonetic Script:   [ɛs va:ɐ ain'ma:l ain 'kø:nɪç ʊnt 'ainə 'kø:nɪgɪn, di: 'le:ptən ɪn 'fri:dən]
    English:   Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who lived in peace.
    Literal translation:   It was once a king and a queen who lived in peace.
4. the report on actions in the past broadcasted by TV or radio stations like the daily news (though it is spoken)
    Example:   Gestern sprach die deutsche Kanzlerin mit dem englischen Premierminister.
    Phonetic Script:   ['gɛstɐn ʃpra:x di: 'dɔytʃə 'kantslərɪn mɪt de:m 'ɛŋlɪʃən prə'mie:mi'nɪstɐ]
    English:   Yesterday the chancellor (female form) talked to the English prime minister.
    Literally:   Yesterday talked the chancellor (female form) with the English prime minister.
Please note that in the German colloquial or spoken language the Present Perfect is used most of the time.