has hidden, hid

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by NokFrt, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. NokFrt New Member

    I have two English sentences:

    1. "The snail has hidden in its shell."
    2. "The snail hid in its shell."

    and one German translation: "Die Schnecke versteckte sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus."

    Is the translation correct for both English sentences?

    Thank you,

  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England

    1. "Die Schnecke hat sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus versteckt." -"The snail has hidden in its shell."

    2. "Die Schnecke versteckte sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus."
  3. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In colloquial German, Paul's 1. (Die Schnecke hat sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus versteckt) is translate both English sentences. Sentence 2. (Die Schnecke versteckte sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus) is possible but highly unusual.
  4. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    I wouldn't call it 'highly unusual'. I would rather use the preterite than the present perfect here.
  5. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In writing yes; in colloquial, spoken language, I'd say your way of expressing yourself would be highly unusual if you really did.
  6. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    I'd even prefer it in spoken language, though only if I retold something that happened. If it had just happened a moment ago, I'd probably go for the present perfect. And yes, I know that such a distinction is no longer valid in German but I still feel inclined to use the preterite here anyway. But you are most probably right in saying that it's highly unusual for most German speakers.
  7. NokFrt New Member

    Thanks you for your answers. I'm not a native english speaker, but when I use present perfect in English there is always a connection with NOW.

    The snail has hidden in its shell. = The snail is still inside its shell.

    Does the sentece ("Die Schnecke hat sich in ihrem Schneckenhaus versteckt.") have the same meaning in German? Or does the usage depends only on if I speak or write?
  8. ABBA Stanza Senior Member

    Hessen, DE
    English (UK)
    I agree. Maybe the "highly" bit needs to be qualified? In Southern Germany, for example in Bavaria, it certainly would be highly unusual in speech. But for the other parts of Germany, where the Präteritum is still relatively widely spoken, why not? After all, it's only a plain weak verb for God's sake :) where adding a "-te" to the verb stem surely isn't something that's likely to grate on the listener anything like as much as some strong verbs would (for example, "Ich wusch mir die Haare" :eek:).

    But, even in regions like Bayern, it's not always that simple in my experience. For example, I know someone who's lived in Oberallgäu for over 30 years, and she still uses the Präteritum quite a lot. Although this may be understandable considering the fact that she grew up in Rheinland-Pfalz, it shows that she clearly hasn't felt the need to adapt her style to that of the many friends and acquaintances she knows there.

  9. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    The fact that it is a plain weak verb actually seems to be one of the reasons why I think that the preterite is absolutely fine here. Your example sentence "Ich wusch mir die Haare" is a good one, 'cause I would definitely not say that, even while retelling something. Here I'd definitely choose the present perfect. In the end, I think the usage of the preterite is not only a regional but also a personal thing. I like to use it, and I use it quite frequently, even irregular (but rather common) verbs. One can say that in general, the present perfect is definitely the most widely used tense, but still, the past tense is not dead, not even in spoken language. It just depends on the person and the region. But one thing's definitely correct...

    ... and that is that the German preterite and present perfect no longer carry a distinct temporal meaning. The usage depends mostly on whether it's written or spoken, and even in colloquial written language you'll mostly come across the present perfect. The preterite is rather used in more formal texts, such as documents and literature.
  10. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    It is the opposite: the most elementary, usually strong or even irregular, verbs are those where the preterite is still more active. The preterite of sein is even used in Bavarian dialect (Ich war = I wåɐ) where all other preterite forms don't even exist. Verstecken is not "elementary" enough.
  11. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Hi, what exactly do you want to say?
    What style do you want to use?

    If you want to explicitly express that it reaches now:

    "Die Schnecke hat sich bis jetzt in ihrem Haus versteckt."
    This may imply "Jetzt kommt sie heraus."

    "Die Schnecke hat sich in ihrem Haus versteckt" has two meanings:
    1. the handling, the process of the status change. This is in the past.
    2. the result. It is hidden until now.

    By semantics reason
    Die Schnecke ist in ihrem Haus versteckt. - Here "hiding" started in the past, (the status change not hidden-hidden was in the past.)

    Die Schnecke versteckte sich in ihrem Haus, anschließend war sie in ihrem Haus versteckt.

    Die Schnecke hat sich in ihrem Haus versteckt. Jetzt ist sie in ihrem Haus versteckt.

    The time and the usage of time is a little bit different between English and German, but usually it is similar.


    Also note that "Schale" is correct, but mostly we say "Haus" - it is the "Schneckenhaus".

    I do not know what is better in scientific context. But in gardening context I would always say "Haus".
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  12. NokFrt New Member

    So what is the reason to translate English present perfect to German perfect and English simple past to German preteritum? I don't understand. If the usage of perfectum/preteritum depends mostly on wheter it's spoken or written, than I can translate the both English sentences ("The snail has hidden in its shell" and "The snail hid in its shell") to German preteritum and it should be correct. Or not?

    The sentences are used without any context as exemplary sentences for word "Snail" - "Die Schnecke" in a computer dictionary.
  13. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Yes, you CAN theoretically. But the usage of tenses in English is determined by the time you talk about, while the choice of Perfekt and Präteritum in German is mainly a question of style.

    As a rule of thumb:
    Present Perfect Simple = Perfekt, Präteritum
    Present Perfect Progressive = Präsens
    Past Simple = Perfekt, Präteritum

    As the others have pointed out, encountering a Präteritum in everyday language is a rare thing.

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