modals in simple past and present perfect

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nkandah

New Member
English
Hello everyone!

Is it ok to tell students that these two sentences:

Ich habe gestern abend meine Oma anrufen wollen.

and

Ich wollte gestern abend meine Oma anrufen.

refer to the same point in past time? I understand the present perfect describing events that began in the past and continue into the present, but this rule doesn't hold fast in German. or am I mistaken?

Are these forms favored in some parts of Germany over others?

Thanks!
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Ich habe gestern Abend meine Oma anrufen wollen.:tick:

    and

    Ich wollte gestern Abend meine Oma anrufen.:tick:
    Both work in German. I believe the first one belongs to a high register while the second is far more common.
    But I don't know why you mention the present perfect. I'd translate both using the (English) simple past because it's finished and you mention a certain time in the past - yesterday evening.
     

    nkandah

    New Member
    English
    Both work in German. I believe the first one belongs to a high register while the second is far more common.
    But I don't know why you mention the present perfect. I'd translate both using the (English) simple past because it's finished and you mention a certain time in the past - yesterday evening.
    I mention the present perfect because of the haben being used as the helping verb for the modal wollen:

    Ich habe das gewollt.
    Ich habe gestern Abend meine Oma anrufen wollen.

    The act of wanting to call Oma started in the past, and it continues into the present and beyond. Unless you can say that you longer care to call Oma.:)

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited:

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    The act of wanting to call Oma started in the past, and it continues into the present and beyond. Unless you can say that you longer care to call Oma.:)
    You cannot use the German Perfekt then.

    "I' ve been trying to call grandma (several times) since yesterday evening."

    "Ich versuche seit gestern Abend Oma anzurufen"
    or:
    "Ich will seit gestern Abend Oma anrufen" (Does only say you want to call but actually did NOT try to call her)

    You have to use Präsens (present tense) in German.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I mention the present perfect because of the haben being used as the helping verb for the modal wollen:

    Ich habe das gewollt.
    Ich habe gestern Abend meine Oma anrufen wollen.

    The act of wanting to call Oma started in the past, and it continues into the present and beyond. Unless you can say that you longer care to call Oma.:)

    Thanks!
    I think it doesn't matter. Varieties of German which (still) distinguish between preterite and perfect tend never to use perfect with modal verbs regardless of semantic context. In Upper German varieties the perfect is used with modals as well but then these varieties do not semantically distinguish between preterite and perfect.
     
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