Present tense

GCSE German - Present TenseWhen using the present tense the verb must be conjugated to agree with the subject of the sentence. The verb comes second in the sentence, normally after the subject, just like in English. Here are some examples of subject – verb – object sentences:

Das Mdchen geht in die Schule

Die alte Dame berquert die Strae

If the first word in the sentence is not the example, for example if it is expressing time, the verb still comes second and the subject comes directly after it.

Heute geht das Mdchen in die Schule

One important sentence structure you should know in German is: Time- Manner- Place. In English we would say, I will travel to Edinburgh on the train tomorrow= place, manner, time. In German you would use the following order: Tomorrow I will travel by train to Edinburgh: Morgen fahre ich mit dem Zug nach Edinburgh.

Perfect tense

GCSE German - ChurchThe perfect tense is one of two past tenses in German. It is a two word tense which is formed by combining an auxiliary verb (haben or sein) with a past participle. You normally use the perfect tense to talk about actions that have been completed in the past:

Ich habe die Kirche besucht = I have visited the church.

Ich bin nach Spanien gefahren = I have travelled to Spain.

These actions are completed. In order to form the perfect tense, you need to find the past participle of the verb you are using. If the verb is a weak verb, then this can be worked out be adding “ge” to the beginning of the verb and replacing “en” at the end for “t”:

zum Beispiel:

hren ? gehrt

bauen ? gebaut

lieben ? geliebt

However, many verbs do not follow this rule such as the two in the example above:

besuchen ? besucht

fahren ? gefahren

It is important to learn the past participle of a verb as you learn each verb. You should also learn which auxiliary the past participle takes. The majority of verbs, including besuchen, hren, bauen and lieben take haben:

ich habe gehrt

du hast geliebt

er hat gebaut

wir haben besucht

Verbs that involve motion such as gehen, fahren, reisen… take sein:

Ich bin nach Spanien gefahren

sie ist in die Stadt gegangen

wir sind um die Welt gereist.

There are always exceptions such as bleiben. Even though bleiben (to stay) does not involve movement (in fact it does quite to opposite) it takes sein in the perfect tense:

Du bist geblieben.

Therefore it is always important to learn which auxiliary a past participle takes.

The Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense is not used in spoken German as much as the perfect tense. It is sometimes used when describing things that happened in the past which are not necessarily actions which have started and finished. There are some important verbs you should be able to use and recognise in the imperfect. These include the following:

GCSE German - A crowd of peoplegeben: es gab viele Menschen – there were a lot of people.

sein: es war einen schnen Tag – it was a lovely day.

haben: ich hatte viel Spa – I had a lot of fun.

mssen: ich musste zu Hause bleiben – I had to stay at home.

wollen: er wollte nach England fahren – he wanted to travel to England.

knnen: wir konnten es nicht verstehen – we could not understand it.

Try and get to know the imperfect forms of the auxiliary verbs, modal verbs and some other frequently used verbs. The word order in the imperfect tense is the same as the present tense.

The Future Tense

GCSE German - The FutureTo form the future tense in German, you need to use the verb werden (will) with an infinitive verb:

ich werde das Abendessen kochen = I will cook dinner.

du wirst bald einschlafen = You will fall asleep soon.

er/ sie wird mitspielen = He/ she will play along.

wir werden reisen = we will travel.

ihr werdet den Film genieen = you (pl) will enjoy the film.

Sie/ sie werden den Zug verpassen = you/ they will miss the train.

Conjugate the verb to agree with the subject (as above) and put in second place in the sentence, like in any normal sentence. As in any other sentence, the infinitive is sent to the end.