Present Perfect - Regular Forms

 

What you should know about regular verbs in the Present Perfect:

The Present Perfect is formed by taking the Present Tense form of the auxiliary verbs "haben" (to have) or "sein" (to be) first.

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive haben ['ha:bən] to have
  1. person singular ich habe ç 'ha:bə] I have
  2. person singular du hast [du: hast] you have
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat] he/she/it has
  1. person plural wir haben [vi:ə 'ha:bən] we have
  2. person plural ihr habt [i:ə ha:pt] you have
  3. person plural sie haben [zi: 'ha:bən] they have
  polite form Sie haben [zi: 'ha:bən] you have

Verbs which are conjugated with haben:

 

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive sein [zain] to be
  1. person singular ich bin ç bɪn] I am
  2. person singular du bist [du: bɪst] you are
  3. person singular er/sie/es ist [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs ɪst] he/she/it is
  1. person plural wir sind [vi:ə zɪnt] we are
  2. person plural ihr seid [i:ə zait] you are
  3. person plural sie sind [zi: zɪnt] they are
  polite form Sie sind [zi: zɪnt] you are

Verbs which are conjugated with sein:

 

Then you take the past participle which is formed as follows:

  Weak Verbs (regular verbs)
                   
  Verb Phonetic English Forming the Past Participle German Phonetic English
  Infinitive Script Infinitive Prefix Stem Ending Participle Script Participle
  lieben ['li:bən] to love ge lieb t geliebt [gə'li:pt] loved

Normally, you take the prefix ge-, the stem of the verb and then the ending -t.

 

However, if you have a verb which already has an unstressed prefix, you take this prefix for the past particple. Here is an example:

  Weak Verbs (regular verbs) with an unstressed prefix
                   
  Verb Phonetic English Forming the Past Participle German Phonetic English
  Infinitive Script Infinitive Prefix Stem Ending Participle Script Participle
  versuchen [fɛɐ'zu:xən] to try ver such t versucht [fɛɐ'zu:xt] tried

Unstressed prefixes are: be-, ent-, er-, ge-, miss-, ver-, wider-, zer-

Please keep in mind that the prefixes miss- and wider- are only unstressed prefixes when they are used in front of a verb. They are stressed prefixes in front of nouns.

 

If you have a verb which already has a stressed prefix, you take this prefix and the prefix ge- like in the following example:

  Weak Verbs (regular verbs) with a stressed prefix
                     
  Verb Phonetic English Forming the Past Participle German Phonetic English
  Infinitive Script Infinitive Prefix Prefix 2 Stem Ending Participle Script Participle
  aufmachen ['aufmaxən] to open auf ge mach t aufgemacht ['aufgəmaxt] opened

Stressed prefixes are: ab-, an-, auf-, aus-, bei-, da-, dar-, ein-, empor-, fort-, her-, hin-, los-, mit-, nach-, nieder-, vor-, weg-, weiter-, wieder-, zu-

Please keep in mind that verbs with a stressed prefix are separated in the Present Tense and the Past Tense.

 

In contrast to the past participle of the weak verbs the past participle of the strong (irregular) verbs is very often formed as follows:

  Strong Verbs (irregular verbs)
                   
  Verb Phonetic English Forming the Past Participle German Phonetic English
  Infinitive Script Infinitive Prefix Irregular Ending Participle Script Participle
  gehen ['ge:ən] to go ge ... en gegangen [gə'gaŋən] gone
or bringen ['brɪŋən] to know ge ... t gebracht [gə'braxt] brought

As you can see, the past participles of the irregular verbs (="strong verbs") often change their stem vowels. You will find a complete list of those verbs if you click on the button "Irregular Forms" above.

The past participle is not adjusted unless you use it as an adjective in front of a noun. Then the past participle is declined like an adjective. If it is part of the predicate (all the words which belong to the verb form of a sentence), it remains unchanged.

 

Exceptions:

 

1. Verbs whose stem ends in -d, -t, -m or -n

If the verb stem ends in -d, -t, -m or -n, an additional e is often (not always) put between the verb stem and the ending, as otherwise, the pronunciation would be difficult.

  Examples:      
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive reden ['re:dən] to talk
  1. person singular ich habe geredet ç 'ha:bə gə're:dət] I have talked
  2. person singular du hast geredet [du: hast gə're:dət] you have talked
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat geredet [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə're:dət] he/she/it has talked
  1. person plural wir haben geredet [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə're:dət] we have talked
  2. person plural ihr habt geredet [i:ə ha:pt gə're:dət] you have talked
  3. person plural sie haben geredet [zi: 'ha:bən gə're:dət] they have talked
  polite form Sie haben geredet [zi: 'ha:bən gə're:dət] you have talked
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive arbeiten ['arbaitən] to work
  1. person singular ich habe gearbeitet ç 'ha:bə gə'ʔarbaitət] I have worked
  2. person singular du hast gearbeitet [du: hast gə'ʔarbaitət] you have worked
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gearbeitet [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'ʔarbaitət] he/she/it has worked
  1. person plural wir haben gearbeitet [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'ʔarbaitət] we have worked
  2. person plural ihr habt gearbeitet [i:ə ha:pt gə'ʔarbaitət] you have worked
  3. person plural sie haben gearbeitet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔarbaitət] they have worked
  polite form Sie haben gearbeitet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔarbaitət] you have worked
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive atmen ['a:tmən] to breathe
  1. person singular ich habe geatmet ç 'ha:bə gə'ʔa:tmət] I have breathed
  2. person singular du hast geatmet [du: hast gə'ʔa:tmət] you have breathed
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat geatmet [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'ʔa:tmət] he/she/it has breathed
  1. person plural wir haben geatmet [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'ʔa:tmət] we have breathed
  2. person plural ihr habt geatmet [i:ə ha:pt gə'ʔa:tmət] you have breathed
  3. person plural sie haben geatmet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔa:tmət] they have breathed
  polite form Sie haben geatmet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔa:tmət] you have breathed
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive öffnen ['œfnən] to open
  1. person singular ich habe geöffnet ç 'ha:bə gə'ʔœfnət] I have opened
  2. person singular du hast geöffnet [du: hast gə'ʔœfnət] you have opened
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat geöffnet [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'ʔœfnət] he/she/it has opened
  1. person plural wir haben geöffnet [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'ʔœfnət] we have opened
  2. person plural ihr habt geöffnet [i:ə ha:pt gə'ʔœfnət] you have opened
  3. person plural sie haben geöffnet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔœfnət] they have opened
  polite form Sie haben geöffnet [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ʔœfnət] you have opened

However, there are also exceptions where no additional e is inserted because we do not have any problems with the pronunciation, e.g. the verb wohnen (ich habe gewohnt).

 

2. Verbs ending in -ieren

The past participle of those verbs which end in -ieren do not have the prefix ge- at the beginning. Only the ending -t is added at the end. Here are some example verbs:

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive kopieren [ko'pi:rən] to copy
  1. person singular ich habe kopiert ç 'ha:bə ko'pi:rt] I have copied
  2. person singular du hast kopiert [du: hast ko'pi:rt] you have copied
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat kopiert [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat ko'pi:rt] he/she/it has copied
  1. person plural wir haben kopiert [vi:ə 'ha:bən ko'pi:rt] we have copied
  2. person plural ihr habt kopiert [i:ə ha:pt ko'pi:rt] you have copied
  3. person plural sie haben kopiert [zi: 'ha:bən ko'pi:rt] they have copied
  polite form Sie haben kopiert [zi: 'ha:bən ko'pi:rt] you have copied
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive telefonieren [telefoˈni:rən] to telephone
  1. person singular ich habe telefoniert ç 'ha:bə telefoˈni:rt] I have telephoned
  2. person singular du hast telefoniert [du: hast telefoˈni:rt] you have telephoned
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat telefoniert [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat telefoˈni:rt] he/she/it has telephoned
  1. person plural wir haben telefoniert [vi:ə 'ha:bən telefoˈni:rt] we have telephoned
  2. person plural ihr habt telefoniert [i:ə ha:pt telefoˈni:rt] you have telephoned
  3. person plural sie haben telefoniert [zi: 'ha:bən telefoˈni:rt] they have telephoned
  polite form Sie haben telefoniert [zi: 'ha:bən telefoˈni:rt] you have telephoned

As you can see from the phonetic script, the stress is on the syllable -iert, similar to the infinitive of those verbs. There the stress is also on the syllable -ier-.

 

3. Verbs which change their past participles after infinitives and other participles

As already mentioned, the modal verbs also belong to those verbs of which the Past Tense forms are very often used in the spoken language. However, there do exist Present Perfect forms which are hardly used:

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive dürfen ['dʏrfən] to be allowed to
  1. person singular ich habe gedurft ç 'ha:bə gə'dʊrft] I have been allowed to
  2. person singular du hast gedurft [du: hast gə'dʊrft] you have been allowed to
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gedurft [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'dʊrft] he/she/it has been allowed to
  1. person plural wir haben gedurft [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'dʊrft] we have been allowed to
  2. person plural ihr habt gedurft [i:ə ha:pt gə'dʊrft] you have been allowed to
  3. person plural sie haben gedurft [zi: 'ha:bən gə'dʊrft] they have been allowed to
  polite form Sie haben gedurft [zi: 'ha:bən gə'dʊrft] you have been allowed to
  After infinitives you have to use "dürfen" instead of "gedurft".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive können ['kœnən] to be able to
  1. person singular ich habe gekonnt ç 'ha:bə gə'kɔnt] I have been able to
  2. person singular du hast gekonnt [du: hast gə'kɔnt] you have been able to
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gekonnt [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'kɔnt] he/she/it has been able to
  1. person plural wir haben gekonnt [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'kɔnt] we have been able to
  2. person plural ihr habt gekonnt [i:ə ha:pt gə'kɔnt] you have been able to
  3. person plural sie haben gekonnt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'kɔnt] they have been able to
  polite form Sie haben gekonnt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'kɔnt] you have been able to
  After infinitives you have to use "können" instead of "gekonnt".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive mögen ['mø:gən] to like
  1. person singular ich habe gemocht ç 'ha:bə gə'mɔxt] I have liked
  2. person singular du hast gemocht [du: hast gə'mɔxt] you have liked
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gemocht [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'mɔxt] he/she/it has liked
  1. person plural wir haben gemocht [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'mɔxt] we have liked
  2. person plural ihr habt gemocht [i:ə ha:pt gə'mɔxt] you have liked
  3. person plural sie haben gemocht [zi: 'ha:bən gə'mɔxt] they have liked
  polite form Sie haben gemocht [zi: 'ha:bən gə'mɔxt] you have liked
  After infinitives you have to use "mögen" instead of "gemocht".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive müssen ['mʏsən] to have to do
  1. person singular ich habe gemusst ç 'ha:bə gə'mʊst] I have had to
  2. person singular du hast gemusst [du: hast gə'mʊst] you have had to
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gemusst [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'mʊst] he/she/it has had to
  1. person plural wir haben gemusst [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'mʊst] we have had to
  2. person plural ihr habt gemusst [i:ə ha:pt gə'mʊst] you have had to
  3. person plural sie haben gemusst [zi: 'ha:bən gə'mʊst] they have had to
  polite form Sie haben gemusst [zi: 'ha:bən gə'mʊst] you have had to
  After infinitives you have to use "müssen" instead of "gemusst".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive sollen ['zɔlən] to be to do sth
  1. person singular ich habe gesollt ç 'ha:bə gə'zɔlt] I have been to do sth
  2. person singular du hast gesollt [du: hast gə'zɔlt] you have been to do sth
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gesollt [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'zɔlt] he/she/it has been to do sth
  1. person plural wir haben gesollt [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'zɔlt] we have been to do sth
  2. person plural ihr habt gesollt [i:ə ha:pt gə'zɔlt] you have been to do sth
  3. person plural sie haben gesollt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'zɔlt] they have been to do sth
  polite form Sie haben gesollt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'zɔlt] you have been to do sth
  "Sollen" has a regular conjugation but after infinitives you have to use "sollen" instead of "gesollt".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive wollen ['vɔlən] to want
  1. person singular ich habe gewollt ç 'ha:bə gə'vɔlt] I have wanted
  2. person singular du hast gewollt [du: hast gə'vɔlt] you have wanted
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gewollt [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'vɔlt] he/she/it has wanted
  1. person plural wir haben gewollt [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'vɔlt] we have wanted
  2. person plural ihr habt gewollt [i:ə ha:pt gə'vɔlt] you have wanted
  3. person plural sie haben gewollt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'vɔlt] they have wanted
  polite form Sie haben gewollt [zi: 'ha:bən gə'vɔlt] you have wanted
  "wollen" has a regular conjugation but after infinitives you have to use "wollen" instead of "gewollt".

As you can see, you do not use the past participle of the modal verbs after infinitives. Here is one example:

German Phonetic Script English
Das habe ich nicht gewollt. [das 'ha:bə ɪççt gə'vɔlt] I have not wanted this.
  but:    
Das habe ich nicht machen wollen. [das 'ha:bə ɪççt 'maxən 'vɔlən] I have to wanted to do this.
  (modal verb after infinitive)    

There are also two other verbs which change their past participles after infinitives:

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive lassen ['lasən] to let
  1. person singular ich habe gelassen ç 'ha:bə gə'lasən] I have let
  2. person singular du hast gelassen [du: hast gə'lasən] you have let
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gelassen [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'lasən] he/she/it has let
  1. person plural wir haben gelassen [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'lasən] we have let
  2. person plural ihr habt gelassen [i:ə ha:pt gə'lasən] you have let
  3. person plural sie haben gelassen [zi: 'ha:bən gə'lasən] they have let
  polite form Sie haben gelassen [zi: 'ha:bən gə'lasən] you have let
  After infinitives you have to use "lassen" instead of "gelassen".
         
  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive sehen ['ze:ən] to see
  1. person singular ich habe gesehen ç 'ha:bə gə'ze:ən] I have seen
  2. person singular du hast gesehen [du: hast gə'ze:ən] you have seen
  3. person singular er/sie/es hat gesehen [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs hat gə'ze:ən] he/she/it has seen
  1. person plural wir haben gesehen [vi:ə 'ha:bən gə'ze:ən] we have seen
  2. person plural ihr habt gesehen [i:ə ha:pt gə'ze:ən] you have seen
  3. person plural sie haben gesehen [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ze:ən] they have seen
  polite form Sie haben gesehen [zi: 'ha:bən gə'ze:ən] you have seen
  After infinitives you have to use "sehen" instead of "gesehen".

 

There is one verb which changes its past participle after other participles:

  Form German Phonetic Script English
  infinitive werden ['ve:ɐdən] to become
  1. person singular ich bin geworden ç bɪn gə'vɔrdən] I have become
  2. person singular du bist geworden [du: bɪst gə'vɔrdən] you have become
  3. person singular er/sie/es ist geworden [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs ɪst gə'vɔrdən] he/she/it has become
  1. person plural wir sind geworden [vi:ə zɪnt gə'vɔrdən] we have become
  2. person plural ihr seid geworden [i:ə zait gə'vɔrdən] you have become
  3. person plural sie sind geworden [zi: zɪnt gə'vɔrdən] they have become
  polite form Sie sind geworden [zi: zɪnt gə'vɔrdən] you have become
  After participles you have to use "worden" instead of "geworden".

Here is one example sentence:

German Phonetic Script English
Er ist Polizist geworden. [e:ɐ ɪst poli'tsɪst gə'vɔrdən] He has become a policeman.
  but:    
Sie ist gekündigt worden. [zi: ɪst gə'kʏndɪçt 'vɔrdən] She has been dismissed.
  (past participle of the verb "werden" after another past participle)  

The verb "werden" is conjugated with the auxiliary verb "sein" and is also used for the passive voice. As you can see, the second example sentence is a passive sentence.

 

4. Verbs which have an accusative object

There are some verbs which are conjugated with the auxiliary verb "sein", mostly verbs which imply a movement, for example the verb "fliegen" (to fly). But these verbs can also stand with an accusative object (direct object). Then they are conjugated with the auxiliary verb "haben". Here is one example:

German Phonetic Script English
Ich bin nach Deutschland geflogen. ç bɪn na:x 'dɔytʃlant gə'flo:gən] I have flown to Germany.
  but:    
Ich habe das Flugzeug geflogen. ç ha:bə das 'flu:ktsoyk gə'flo:gən] I have flown the plane.
  (auxiliary verb "haben" with accusative object)