In German, as in English, the past perfect tense (Pluscuamperfekt) is used, to describe a happening in the past, that took place previous to another happening in the past. It is constructed in the same way as the present perfect tense (Perfekt), except the fact, that the auxiliary verbs of haben oder sein is in the simple past form.
In this example, both actions took place in the past, but the practicing was terminated before the girl wrote her test.
The formation is exactly the same as with the present perfect, but with the simple past form of one of the auxiliaries sein or haben.
To use the German past perfect you need the simple past form of sein or haben and the participle II.
|er/ sie/ es||war||hatte|
The auxiliaries you find above are conjugated irregularly. Try to keep them in your mind and learn them by heart.
The typical construction of the past participle of a weak verb, looks le following way:
ge- + infinitive sten + -t
|leben (to live)||leb-||gelebt|
|lachen (to laugh)||lach-||gelacht|
|fragen (to ask)||frag-||gefragt|
Find some example sentences below:
The past participle of strong verbs is formed by adding the perfix ge- and the ending -en:
|sprechen (to speak)||sprech-||gesprochen|
|lesen (to read)||les-||gelesen|
|sehen (to see)||seh-||gesehen|
Here are some examples:
To make sure you know when to use sein and when to use haben, have a look at the chapter about the present perfect in German, where the difference and the usage situations are described.
In this lesson you have learned about the past perfect tense in the German language. Try our exercises to improve your ability of forming the past perfect tense.
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