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Grammatik auf Englisch - Perfekt oder Imperfekt?

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Englische Zeiten, Grammatik Zeiten Englisch, Gramatik Zeiten Englisch, Englisch Tenses, Perfekt oder Imperfekt?

8. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10. but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
(1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®)


Stretching the meaning of this biblical observation of love to the spellbinding realm of grammar, you might say this is exactly what has happened to the German language during the course of its evolution. Slowly, the use of the perfect tense has been displacing the use of the imperfect. While the imperfect tense is preferred in writing, the perfect tense tends to be favoured when speaking. Unfortunately, there is no such general usage guidance for English. You have to know when to use each tense.

Past simple
The past simple tense corresponds most closely to the German Präteritum or Imperfekt in formation. It is often associated with irregular changes to the verb stem:
to eat: I eat, I ate
to think: I think, I thought
to drink: I drink, I drank
to sleep: I sleep, I slept
to imagine: I imagine, I imagined

The primary use of the past simple tense is to express an action that occurred completely in the past. This means the action started and stopped in the past. It may have been:

A quick, simple action or event

An action that happened over time and then came to an end

An action that was a habit in the past and is no longer a habit


Examples ( two of each ):

I ate my soup.
Did you call me last night?
I worked on that report for more than three hours yesterday.
My neighbour’s dog barked all night.
When I was young, I never studied much.
When I worked as a stock broker, I used to drink a lot of coffee.


Past perfect
The past perfect tense is used to express an action in the past that was completed before something else in the past occurred:

We were not able to get a table because we had not booked in advance.

The typical form of the past perfect is:

had + past participle

The past perfect is not part of our discussion, but we present it here as a way to help develop your understanding. The past perfect in English corresponds to the Plusquamperfekt or Vorvergangenheit in German. In English, the formal name for this tense, pluperfect, is similar to the German Plusquamperfekt.

Present perfect
The present perfect in English has four primary uses:

To talk about an experience or accomplishment.
It is not relevant when the event occurred.

I have never eaten so much okra.
People have walked on the moon.


To talk about an action in the past that started in the past and continues to now.

I have lived in Paris for three years.

To talk about a past action or event that has a present result.

I’m afraid Martin has lost his passport.

The present perfect is formed like this:

has/have + past participle

The confusion
For German speakers, the question always comes down to which is right:

I lost my wallet.
I have lost my wallet.


Or, another example:
I gave my manager the report yesterday.
I have given my manager the report yesterday.


Here are a few tricks that will help you
understand which is correct.

Trick 1:
If there is anything in the sentence that indicates that the action has been completed in the past, use the simple past. The present perfect is in this case never correct. Look for phrases like yesterday, last week and two minutes ago.

Incorrect:
I have given my manager the report yesterday.

Trick 2:
If what you want to express has no impact on the present, use the simple past. Here’s what the following really mean:
I lost my wallet. ( It happened, it’s over, it’s a fact of the past that is not continuing into the present. )

I have lost my wallet. ( It happened in the past, but the present perfect tense indicates that the loss is having an impact on the present. Perhaps this sentence is short for “I have lost my wallet, so I can’t pay.” )

Trick 3:
Add in the past or up until now to the end of the sentence. If the meaning is in the past, you want the past simple. If it is up until now, you want the present perfect.

I visited Paris three times.
I have visited Paris three times.


Trick 4:
If you use the words already, yet, since or for, or if you mean them but don’t use them, the present perfect is correct:
Have you eaten yet?
Have you eaten?
No thanks, I’ve eaten ( already ).
I haven’t eaten since 3.
I haven’t been to Paris for three years.


You would not ask Did you eat? in this context, because that implies a past action that has no impact on the present. These would be correct, however, because the action occurs entirely in the past:
Did you eat while you were there?
Did you eat yesterday?


Incorrect:
Have you eaten while you were there?
Have you eaten yesterday?

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Englische Zeiten, Grammatik Zeiten Englisch, Gramatik Zeiten Englisch, Englisch Tenses, Perfekt oder Imperfekt?

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