Perfekt vs. Präteritum

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Hutschi

Senior Member
Ok, thank you Hutschi!

Martin Durrell's "Hammer's German: Grammar and Usage" suggests that habitual past actions is one of the contexts in which spoken north (Standard) German sometimes (but not systematically) uses the Präteritum. The example he gives is:

Ich habe gewusst, dass sein Vater trank.
I knew his father used to drink.
This is a good example.

In case of "Rauchen" we would get:

Weil mein Vater (oft/gewöhnlich/zu viel) rauchte, bekam er Krebs.

Here the repeated action is important.
"Ich bin mit dem Rad in die Schule gefahren, aber ich bin gar nicht bis zur Schule gekommen" can translate as both:
"I rode my bike to school" or "I was riding my bike to school", depending on what the speaker wishes to say.
Sorry, here I cannot say it in English, because I do not know the nuances good enough.

It is an idiom and the meaning is different to the literal sense. It means:

"Ich bin mit dem Rad in die Schule gefahren, aber ich bin gar nicht bis zur Schule gekommen"

"Ich startete mit dem Rad und fuhr in Richtung Schule, habe sie aber nicht erreicht, weil etwas eintrat, das das verhinderte."
I do not see a difference in the meaning to
"Ich fuhr mit dem Rad in die Schule, aber ich bin gar nicht bis zur Schule gekommen."
I do not know if the second sentence implies repeated driving or not in the north. In my region it does not, but it also does not forbid it - if the context does not clarify it.

Here I would add "heute", "gerade", "gewöhnlich" or "immer" or similar particles to add enough redundancy to make it clear.
 
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  • Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    If you're asking about spoken language, the Austrian standard version would be "Ich habe gewusst, dass sein Vater trinkt", the past being indicated by Perfekt (since we have no Präteritum in spoken language here), the present tense in the clause indicating that it happened at the same level of time as the main clause (it was then, when I knew it, present reality).
    In the first example, I'd suggest using Perfekt also in written language since "too" implies a present judgement: you're now (let's suppose, I don't know of course!) 33, and NOW you think the amount of cigarettes you smoked daily when you were 20 was exaggerated. You didn't think so at the time... so the sentence describes your present, hence you're using Perfekt.
    "Ich rauchte zu viel" is not incomplete, it has a differently nuanced meaning, like in "Ich saß den ganzen Abend in dieser Spelunke herum, trank ein Bier nach dem anderen und rauchte zu viel."
    Hutschi, no, I don't see a difference between the two sentences you gave, I just wouldn't use the latter since it doesn't make sense to me. The fact that you smoked too much is relevant for your present, as well, so why should it be Imperfekt? (Thinking of written language, of course.)
     

    Alaedious

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi again!

    Do Austrians ever use the Präteritum in the spoken language with very common verbs, such as these examples:

    Ich dachte, du bist in Berlin!
    Das ist ja leichter, als ich dachte!
    Er glaubte, mich gesehen zu haben.
    Ich wusste nicht, dass er heute kommt.

    Or would they always use the Perkfekt... Ich habe gedacht, er hat geglaubt, etc....?
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Never ever. The only verb whose Präteritum we're using in Austrian spoken language is "sein": war, waren, warst, wart, all common forms. No other Präteritum is ever to be heard in Austrian everyday conversation.
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    If you allow me: here's a riddle for all of you, natives and non-natives alike. What do you think of the following lines? Are they idiomatic according to your understanding of German language? And what's your interpretation in terms of content?

    "Mir ging es so wie wohl den meisten, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erfuhr. Ich fragte mich: Wofür?"

    I'm curious about all your interpretations, but if berndf happens to be around, I'd be particularly curious about his.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It sounds idiomatic to me. But I might say "Ich habe mich gefragt: Wofür?". My use in oral language is not consistent*.
    _______________
    *Nach Studium im Frankfurt und über 20 Jahre Ehe mit einer Österreicherin geht mir inzwischen sogar das doppelte Perfekt flüssig von der Zunge.:D
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    So no irritation on your behalf? No suspicion the author wants to tell us something particular, perhaps: unusual?

    Even though I know it's probably childish, I'd be glad if others would chime in, as well.
     

    ABBA Stanza

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Never ever. The only verb whose Präteritum we're using in Austrian spoken language is "sein": war, waren, warst, wart, all common forms. No other Präteritum is ever to be heard in Austrian everyday conversation.
    What about modal verbs? Is it OK in Austria to say things like:

    Es tut mir leid, aber ich konnte nicht kommen.

    Or does on have to say "es tut mir leid, aber ich habe nicht kommen können"?

    If you allow me: here's a riddle for all of you, natives and non-natives alike. What do you think of the following lines? Are they idiomatic according to your understanding of German language? And what's your interpretation in terms of content?
    Sorry, Tifoso, but you've got me there. I can't find any hidden messages at all :(. For me, the following two sentences are identical in meaning:

    "Mir ging es so wie wohl den meisten, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erfuhr. Ich fragte mich: Wofür?"

    "Mir ist es so wie wohl den meisten gegangen, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erhahren habe. Ich habe mich gefragt: Wofür?"


    I'm still curious to know the answer to your riddle though! :)

    Cheers,
    Abba
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    What about modal verbs? Is it OK in Austria to say things like:

    Es tut mir leid, aber ich konnte nicht kommen.

    Or does on have to say "es tut mir leid, aber ich habe nicht kommen können"?
    I hoab net kumma kinna.

    The issue is that Upper German dialects have completely lost the preterite already about 400 years ago. It is not only unusual to use preterite, the forms literally don't exist any more; with the exception of "sein", as Tifoso mentioned. Austro-Bavarian has only two finite conjugation schemes: one indicative, namely present and one subjunctive of unspecified tense (i.e. no differentiation between Konjunktiv I and II), e.g.
    I sich=ich sehe (Indikativ Präsens) and
    I sichat=ich sehe (Konjunktiv I) or ich sähe (Konjunktiv II).
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Bernd, we're going to bestow the title "Austrian h.c." upon you. :D
    Almost... I'm not aware of any Austrian dialect using "hoab" for "habe" - it should be "hob" or "hab".
    And perhaps we should also mention that the dialect subjunctive is actually rare, that's almost theoretical. In real life, "ich sähe" is "i tat sengn" ("täte" is the Austrian dialect equivalent to "würde").

    ABBA, really always "ich habe nicht kommen können" (oh yes, there are also people here who do NOT speak dialect). As far as the riddle, of course I'm going to answer it, but let's wait until tomorrow - perhaps on Monday, some more people would like to participate. :)
    Perhaps I should add the lines are from a written text, no spoken language (but also no Austrian author, so the difference between written and spoken should be less important according to Bernd).
     
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    teto_90

    Senior Member
    Italian - Marche (Italy)
    "Mir ging es so wie wohl den meisten, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erfuhr. Ich fragte mich: Wofür?"

    I'm curious about all your interpretations, but if berndf happens to be around, I'd be particularly curious about his.
    I'm not German but I'll give a try as well..."Ich fragte mich" tells me that the author wondered repetedly, more than once, about the reason of the event. "Ich habe mich gefragt", on the contrary, doesn't give me this impression, it just tells me that, yes, the author wondered about the reason, but stop, no further indications.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Almost... I'm not aware of any Austrian dialect using "hoab" for "habe" - it should be "hob" or "hab".
    I accept the criticism.

    There are many variant, from "g'schert" "haun" to Viennese "hawe/howe" but the most typical is "hab/hob" with a rounded or unrounded dark "a", similar to the Scandinavian "aa".
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    If you allow me: here's a riddle for all of you, natives and non-natives alike. What do you think of the following lines? Are they idiomatic according to your understanding of German language? And what's your interpretation in terms of content?

    "Mir ging es so wie wohl den meisten, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erfuhr. Ich fragte mich: Wofür?"

    I'm curious about all your interpretations, but if berndf happens to be around, I'd be particularly curious about his.
    For me it seems to be idiomatic, too.

    In case of "Wofür hat er ihn bekommen?" - which is not in the sentence - I would use the perfect.
    In the other part of the sentence I also would not have problems with the perfect, but it would shift slightly to idiomatic coll. language in the following case:
    "Mir ist es so gegangen, wie wohl den meisten, als ich gestern von der Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an Barack Obama erfahren habe. Ich habe mich gefragt: Wofür?"
    One of the reasons: I would try to avoid duplicate verbs in written language (in literary texts). And in perfect you always have to repeat aux. verbs.

    But if you change "als" to "während" I would prefer imperfect: während er ihn bekam. "Als" can have both the meaning: "während" and "nachdem" - depending on the context.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    If you allow me: here's a riddle for all of you, natives and non-natives alike.
    I came across the following example: A man returns from the dentist and was asked whether the dentist had to drill. I thought about what would be idiomatic for me a northerner. Maybe my results are interesting for you ("*" means unidiomatic):

    Er hat gebohrt.
    *Er bohrte.
    *Er hat bohren müssen.
    Er musste bohren.
    In Westphalia the following would be idiomatic in colloquial speech: Er tat bohren.

    @Abba: The last one I find interesting because in English I would say:
    *He drilled.
    *He has drilled.
    He did drill.
    He had to drill.
    *He has had to drill.
    Do you agree?
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Well, conferring the number of recent views of this thread and the number of replies to the riddle, we may conclude that more than just a few people are afraid to say something wrong. Without any reason, though. We're not at school here, and it's just fun, not an exam. :) All the more, thank you to those who actually replied. There is unfortunately no winner, though. :( Here we go with the explanation:

    After my random ten-minutes "bookshelf test" on Saturday, I thought I'd do some deeper research. In the light of what berndf had said what's idiomatic for a northern German of his generation, I started looking for Hamburg-related writers born 1960 (which must be just about Bernd's year of birth) online. The first one I found brought no suitable result since there's just one of her texts available online, and it's entirely written in present tense. The second writer I found is SF-author Karl Olsberg, born 1960 in Bielefeld (which is not too far south of Hamburg and certainly part of Northern Germany, too) and living in Hamburg. He has a blog, and that's where I found the text on Obama.
    The lines I quoted are the very start of that text. I was immediately irritated. Why the heck would he use Präteritum for those two sentences? His position of yesterday, I thought, is his present position, so the two sentences explain something present, and so they'd have to be written in Perfekt. The Präteritum, in my book, would mean this is a historical position that he shares no longer. That's what I thought; and so, quite obviously, I concluded that Bernd is right, and that northern Germans of his generation make completely arbitrary use of Perfekt and Imperfekt.
    Not so. I was wrong and so was, I regret I have to say, Bernd. Olsberg is using the Präteritum exactly the way I understand it: the text goes on explaining why he was so surprised and outright negative about the Nobel Prize for Obama; but then, he delineates how he started thinking about it once more: "Ist es nicht bemerkenswert, dass der oberste Befehlshaber der größten Atomstreitmacht der Welt öffentlich für deren Abschaffung plädiert? Ist dies nicht ein ungeheuer mutiger Schritt, der allein schon die höchste aller Auszeichnungen rechtfertigt?"
    And he ends with the highest praise for the Nobel Prize Committee: "Falls das (die Vision einer atomwaffenfreien Welt, Anm. TB) gelingt, war dies vielleicht die klügste Entscheidung, die das Nobelpreiskommittee je getroffen hat." So his position of yesterday is really just of historical importance, and he tells us so from the very start of his text - and just by the use of Präteritum instead of (what we - at least: what I - would expect) Perfekt, without any further hints. (And he uses also Perfekt how I understand it: "...je getroffen hat" - hindsight from our present moment.)

    So I have to conclude from the fascinating discussion on this thread that for professional writers (though I don't doubt at all that we could find some exceptions, as well) and for a significant part of readers alike, including myself, it goes without saying that Perfekt and Präteritum mean what I outlined earlier on this thread, but that another significant part of readers doesn't any longer apprehend the shades and nuances of meaning conveyed by this distinction between the two tenses.

    Edit before hitting the "submit reply" button (since Bernd's latest posting just came in): in this case, your view is identical with mine. It's most probably still aching, so relevant for the present moment, hence Perfekt.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    …in this case, your view is identical with mine. It's most probably still aching, so relevant for the present moment, hence Perfekt.
    But this is not the reason. The reason is that the aspect is static and not dynamic, i.e. context not narrative, i.e. we are talking about the state of being subjected to drilling and not about the act of drilling. In a narrative context I would prefer Präteritum:
    Zuerst untersuchte er alle Zähne und bei einem bohrte er.

     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Almost... I'm not aware of any Austrian dialect using "hoab" for "habe" - it should be "hob" or "hab".
    I agree, no Austrian dialects use this particular sound, but some writers use grapheme <oa> for the "o" in "hob"; so probably that's where Bernd got this spelling.
    And perhaps we should also mention that the dialect subjunctive is actually rare, that's almost theoretical. In real life, "ich sähe" is "i tat sengn" ("täte" is the Austrian dialect equivalent to "würde").
    On a sidenote, yes, true again, but in rural dialects the old Konjunktiv forms are still widely used; "sag" (for "sähe") is quite rare, same goes for "frass" (= "frässe"), but others are still common ("gab" for "gäbe").

    So his position of yesterday is really just of historical importance, and he tells us so from the very start of his text - and just by the use of Präteritum instead of (what we - at least: what I - would expect) Perfekt, without any further hints.
    Now does he, did he really intend this by use of Präteritum, and if he did (which of course is perfectly possible as there are still Northerners who seem to use more or less consistently Präteritum to "mean" something not related to the present), how many of his readers did understeand this when reading the sentence at first?

    The answer is: nobody of the readers of this thread, obviously, at least not at first sight (not even you, and you were the only one who knew the full context); and probably not many readers of his blog overall, be they German or Austrian or Swiss.

    So I just wanted to point out, again, that I don't see much use in holding up a norm which never was used consistently throughout the whole German speaking area and which nowadays seems to be in constant decline.
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    (not even you, and you were the only one who knew the full context)
    Well actually, I did. Just after what we had discussed here, I thought it was impossible that my interpretation was right for a northern German. But if I hadn't searched and found Olsberg's text in the particular context of this thread, everything would have gone smoothly: he uses Imperfekt, and I conclude he is telling me about a position that he shares no more, even if it's his position of yesterday.
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    And one more thing, sokol, which I obviously failed to make clear all the time: I don't want to "hold up a norm" (I'm not nearly as prescriptive as you seem to think). I'm just convinced that you need to know the norm, or you won't be able to understand (a great number of) texts with all the nuances that are to be found there. And what's more, I also think that you're depriving yourself, in your own use of (written) language, of one of the subtlest instruments of nuancing the expression that German grammar is offering. So it's not about "right" or "wrong"; it's about understanding (every shade) or not, and about exploiting the potential of delicate expressions that German grammar is so full of.
     
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    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I'm just convinced that you need to know the norm, or you won't be able to understand (a great number of) texts with all the nuances that are to be found there.
    And my point is that you cannot hold up which does not exist.

    And that you couldn't possibly deprive yourself of a valuable means of expressing meanings if hardly anybody is capable of understanding it.

    But we both know that we won't agree on this topic, not if we were going on discussing a further 50 or 100 posts. :)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I agree, no Austrian dialects use this particular sound, but some writers use grapheme <oa> for the "o" in "hob"; so probably that's where Bernd got this spelling.
    Yes, probably. I thought of this after reading Tifoso's correction. The digraph <oa> is probably indicating the dark-a as being in-between <a> and <o> and not indicating a diphthong.

    I'm just convinced that you need to know the norm, or you won't be able to understand (a great number of) texts with all the nuances that are to be found there.
    The way I see it, the nuances are contained in the context and depending on this context one or the other form is more natural. But the tenses themselves do not contain independent information (any more). Anything else would simply be to prone to misunderstandings. That is why the use of Präteritum and Perfekt is often seen as "stylistic".
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    One more finding that may be interesting for you (though probably only very few non-native German speakers will be able to understand it - sorry, this is truly complicated stuff!): I did some further (final, even I am getting tired of it) research, and found an obviously very famous grammarian (unknown to me so far, since I'm no grammarian at all, just an experienced writer/reader): Harald Weinrich, described as the inventor of textual linguistics (see below).
    He has his own, obviously enormously influential theory as to Präsens/Perfekt on the one and Imperfekt/Plusquamperfekt on the other hand, which has the charm of encompassing not just German but also English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish... the whole world of Indo-European languages, it seems. His monography in question is very simply called "Tempus"; he reflects on the totally improper names of the tenses ("Perfekt", "Imperfekt"), and writes on the specific question of German Perfekt/Imperfekt: "Wir können auch sagen: daß Vergangenheit im Perfekt nicht als perfectum, sondern als imperfectum erscheint. (Im Imperfekt erscheint Vergangenheit als perfectum.) Dabei ist es nicht zwingend nötig, daß der im Verb ausgedrückte Vorgang selber bis in die Gegenwart weiterläuft." (It's on Google Books in large parts, that's where you can read more.) I hope you would agree that this position (Perfekt describes the "imperfect" = not finalized past, while the action delineated by the verb doesn't necessarily have to be going on though; Imperfekt describes the "perfect" = finalized past) is identical with mine, though I've of course not been able to express my thoughts as clearly as he does.
    Sokol will argue, no doubt, that just a neglectable number of old-fashioned guys are understanding German that way, but hey, Mr. Weinrich is not just another odd reference :), the book in question is "das Gründungsdokument der Textlinguistik" (the founding document of textual linguistics), as Lutz Hagestedt, professor of literature at the Rostock University (and by the way, born 1960 !! in Goslar, northern Germany) says in this text: http://www.literaturkritik.de/public/rezension.php?rez_id=4210&ausgabe=200110, where he explains Weinrich's theory (in a no less complicated way than Weinrich himself, though). So please: I don't doubt what most of you said about the shrinking number of readers who are able to understand it, but please don't doubt, on the other hand, that professional writers (of literature, not of newspaper articles) typically intend their texts to be apprehended the way I've explained it. Yes typically, not just a few or a percentage of them. This is not changed by the sad fact that their intention is obviously proving fruitless towards a - perhaps - large and - quite probably - constantly growing number of readers. Which is interesting enough in itself.
     
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    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    And he ends with the highest praise for the Nobel Prize Committee: "Falls das (die Vision einer atomwaffenfreien Welt, Anm. TB) gelingt, war dies vielleicht die klügste Entscheidung, die das Nobelpreiskommittee je getroffen hat." So his position of yesterday is really just of historical importance, and he tells us so from the very start of his text - and just by the use of Präteritum instead of (what we - at least: what I - would expect) Perfekt, without any further hints. (And he uses also Perfekt how I understand it: "...je getroffen hat" - hindsight from our present moment.)
    I've been pondering on this since yesterday evening and: I don't think so (the part of your text marked bold). I interpret "ich dachte" here not as the whole mindset that he had yesterday and that has changed since (with regard to this particular question), but simply as the immediate mental reaction.

    He perceived the news, and a thought popped into his mind. All this is set in the same time frame; that's just natural.

    I can say this because the same happened to me. :) But my doubts have NOT changed in the meantime, and still I would describe this "ich dachte" as that very singular event at the moment of hearing the news.

    So, in my opinion, there's not hidden meaning in the (grammar of the) text.

    In written language I would set the whole thing in Präteritum, and I guess in spoken language I would use Perfekt to describe the (mental) events.

    I imagine myself speaking to my colleague on the morning after hearing the news: "Hast Du das gehört von Obama und dem Nobelpreis? Als ich das gehört hab, hab ich gleich gedacht: "Was soll das denn?""
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I hope you would agree that this position (Perfekt describes the "imperfect" = not finalized past, while the action delineated by the verb doesn't necessarily have to be going on though; Imperfekt describes the "perfect" = finalized past) is identical with mine, though I've of course not been able to express my thoughts as clearly as he does.
    I agree that the German names "Perfekt" and "Imperfekt" of the time forms do not properly describe them.
    But I did not learn "Perfect"="finalized path" and imperfect="not finalized path" in school. They related it to the handling at the time of view (Beobachtungszeitpunkt). So in Imperfect the handling was going on when I say: "Ich dachte." They are related to the handling and not to the time itself.

    process --- observation time in the past --- process finished --- present time (Imperfekt)
    process finished --- time of description/speach (past or present time) (Perfect)

    But strictly speaking, that was what I learned in school and it is superseded by the usage. But it declares why I say "Das hat mich überrascht" and not so often "Das überraschte mich".

    There is another item: Because of "haben" is a verb (Hilfsverb), it may or not may have a meaning on its own.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    … he reflects on the totally improper names of the tenses ("Perfekt", "Imperfekt"), and writes on the specific question of German Perfekt/Imperfekt: "Wir können auch sagen: daß Vergangenheit im Perfekt nicht als perfectum, sondern als imperfectum erscheint.
    (Im Imperfekt erscheint Vergangenheit als perfectum.) Dabei ist es nicht zwingend nötig, daß der im Verb ausgedrückte Vorgang selber bis in die Gegenwart weiterläuft." (It's on Google Books in large parts, that's where you can read more.)
    I totally agree, "Imperfekt" is a misleading term in German which is therefore rejected by most grammarians today. You won't find this term in any of my previous posts in this thread. In Latin grammar it describes a past action which was not yet completed at a reference point in time. In German this combination of tense and aspect does not exist. In English the Latin/Romance imperfect roughly corresponds to the past continuous ("He was reading [imperfective action in the past] a book when she entered [reference point in time] the room").

    The Classical Latin perfect could mean one of two things: A terminated action in the past (past-perfective, preterite) or a present state caused by a completed past action (perfect). Late Latin developed a composite verb form to separate the perfect from the perfective aspect. This Late Latin verb form is most likely the origin of the English present perfect and the German Perfekt. The precise demarcations between these aspects are slightly different in English and German but the basic meaning of the differentiation is the same.

    I still have the impression that there is a slight misconception on you part as to what these aspects express: It is important to notice that the perfect aspect is a property of the sentence and what it tries to convey and not of reality itself. The choice of preterite or perfect does not depend on whether or not the leg is still broken or whether or not the teeth still hurt. The choice depends on what you are talking about, whether you are talking about the past event or action of breaking a leg or drilling or whether you are talking about to state of your leg still being in plaster or your teeth still hurting or your teeth being in such a poor state that the dentist had to drill.
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Sowka, you may be interested in browsing Weinrich's book: http://books.google.at/books?id=MdY...&dq=weinrich+tempus&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Of course I accept that you would use Präteritum even if your opinion hasn't changed since, but in this case, myself (which admittedly is of limited relevance) and Weinrich (had I known him before, I'd never have attempted to explain it myself) don't think your use of Präteritum is German standard language.

    Hutschi, I guess it's just a typo, but as it is, your post appears as if you've got Weinrich wrong: he says Perfekt is describing the NOT finalized ("imperfect") past, and Imperfekt the finalized ("perfect") past. Totally paradoxical, thus.

    The choice of preterite or perfect does not depend on whether or not the leg is still broken or whether or not the teeth still hurt. The choice depends on what you are talking about, whether you are talking about the past event or action of breaking a leg or drilling or whether you are talking about to state of your leg still being in plaster or your teeth still hurting or your teeth being in such a poor state that the dentist had to drill.
    Bernd, about that, you may be right or not, I'm honestly not enough of a grammarian to judge it. But I think this is a less fundamental difference than the ones we've already been discussing on this thread. Perhaps it would make sense if we all read Weinrich's book, and came back to this thread afterwards - it would probably make our discussion both easier and better funded.

    In English the Latin/Romance imperfect roughly corresponds to the past continuous ("He was reading a book when she entered [reference point in time] the room").
    Just one word from a former Latin teacher (yes, unfortunately: myself): while you're describing Latin perfect perfectly :D, the meaning of Latin imperfect is different: 1. long-lasting actions or conditions in the past, 2. repeated actions in the past, 3. attempted actions in the past (which is making it sort of a subjunctive - a meaning that's driving Latin learners mad, but is still preserved in modern Italian grammar). The reference to continuous/not continuous is English grammar, not Latin.
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hutschi, I guess it's just a typo, but as it is, your post appears as if you've got Weinrich wrong: he says Perfekt is describing the NOT finalized ("imperfect") past, and Imperfekt the finalized ("perfect") past. Totally paradoxical, thus.
    I got this, but I wanted to say that I learned it (almost) the other way around in school.

    But Weinreich compares the times to the present time if I understand it right, and in school we learned it (Berndf explained it similarly) compared to a reference point in the past. As least the quotation gave no reference point.

    Basically they taught as if German is Latin. But it isn't.

    (There are more such thing based on Latin: the case system is oriented on the Latin system.)
     

    ABBA Stanza

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I still have the impression that there is a slight misconception on you part as to what these aspects express: It is important to notice that the perfect aspect is a property of the sentence and what it tries to convey and not of reality itself. The choice of preterite or perfect does not depend on whether or not the leg is still broken or whether or not the teeth still hurt. The choice depends on what you are talking about, whether you are talking about the past event or action of breaking a leg or drilling or whether you are talking about to state of your leg still being in plaster or your teeth still hurting or your teeth being in such a poor state that the dentist had to drill.
    Bernd, about that, you may be right or not, I'm honestly not enough of a grammarian to judge it. But I think this is a less fundamental difference than the ones we've already been discussing on this thread. Perhaps it would make sense if we all read Weinrich's book ...
    I must admit, I haven't read the book. However, from what I've seen from the excerpts so far, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between Bernd's and Weinrich's views. Note, however, that Bernd didn't refer to the "perfect tense", but rather to the "perfect aspect". Thus:

    event or action = finalized past -> "imperfect" aspect
    state = unfinalized past (not necessarily extending into the present) -> perfect aspect

    I think this distinction between aspect and tense is important. These aspects and the notions of "finalized" and "unfinalized" past are linguistic concepts that can be generically applied to a multitude of languages. As such, scholars can refer to these concepts independently of how these concepts are mapped to real tenses and constructs in current idiomatic language.

    In terms of modern colloquial German, these mappings appear to me to be roughly as follows:

    "imperfect" aspect -> Präteritum, Perfect
    perfect aspect -> Perfect

    In other words, the use of the Perfect tense provides no clues as to whether the "imperfect" or perfect aspect was intended. As already mentioned, this situation arises from the fact that natives from many southern regions generally shun the Präteritum. In addition, even natives from northern Germany will often avoid the Präteritum for a particular verb if it sounds too clumsy.

    On the other hand, the use of the Präteritum does provide the information that the "imperfect" aspect was intended. This itself could be an argument for using it. However, not using it (and thus not providing this information) does not make the Perfect "wrong" (in my book), just arguably less suitable.

    Cheers,
    Abba
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    In terms of modern colloquial German, these mappings appear to me to be roughly as follows:

    "imperfect" aspect -> Präteritum, Perfect
    perfect aspect -> Perfect

    In other words, the use of the Perfect tense provides no clues as to whether the "imperfect" or perfect aspect was intended. As already mentioned, this situation arises from the fact that natives from many southern regions generally shun the Präteritum. In addition, even natives from northern Germany will often avoid the Präteritum for a particular verb if it sounds too clumsy.

    On the other hand, the use of the Präteritum does provide the information that the "imperfect" aspect was intended. This itself could be an argument for using it. However, not using it (and thus not providing this information) does not make the Perfect "wrong" (in my book), just arguably less suitable.
    For me this sum it up rather nicely.:)
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Abba, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. And I'm not sure whether you've got Weinrich right (but this is perhaps due to MY possible misapprehension of your post). Weinrich is clearly attributing those aspects to German tenses, and he says that, paradoxically, the "imperfect aspect" is being expressed by Perfekt (the tense!), and the "perfect aspect" by Imperfekt (= Präteritum, but the paradoxical play on words is of course working far better if we stick to the totally improper "old" term "Imperfekt").
    Again, I'm not sure whether I'm understanding well what you are saying, but your guess as to modern colloquial German is precisely contrary to Weinrich's (and my) definition. Which may be true for many German speakers, that's what results from the discussion on this thread.

    Edit: Weinrich's and my view is of course only true for written language, let me stress that once more.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Just one word from a former Latin teacher (yes, unfortunately: myself): while you're describing Latin perfect perfectly :D, the meaning of Latin imperfect is different: 1. long-lasting actions or conditions in the past, 2. repeated actions in the past, 3. attempted actions in the past (which is making it sort of a subjunctive - a meaning that's driving Latin learners mad, but is still preserved in modern Italian grammar). The reference to continuous/not continuous is English grammar, not Latin.
    Fascinating topic. In my understanding, past continuous "he was reading" is included in your "1." (cf. here). I'd love to continue this discussion at an appropriate place (maybe in an EHL thread).

    The important thing here is to note that we agree there is no "imperfect" in German, whatever it might express in Latin or any modern Romance language.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Abba, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. And I'm not sure whether you've got Weinrich right (but this is perhaps due to MY possible misapprehension of your post). Weinrich is clearly attributing those aspects to German tenses, and he says that, paradoxically, the "imperfect aspect" is being expressed by Perfekt (the tense!), and the "perfect aspect" by Imperfekt (= Präteritum, but the paradoxical play on words is of course working far better if we stick to the totally improper "old" term "Imperfekt").
    Again, I'm not sure whether I'm understanding well what you are saying, but your guess as to modern colloquial German is precisely contrary to Weinrich's (and my) definition. Which may be true for many German speakers, that's what results from the discussion on this thread.
    When you say "imperfect aspect" you refer to a grammatic concept and its meaning. When you say "Imperfekt" you refer to a verb form (=conjugation scheme) in a given language (here German), independently of its meaning or funtion.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    ...or that, IF there is such a thing as "imperfect" in German, it's expressed by the tense that's wrongly called "Perfekt".
    I don't quit see what you have in mind. Could you give me an example where the German Perfekt conveys an imperfective meaning (long lasting, repetitive or habitual action in the past), if properly distinguished from Präteritum?
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    No, Bernd, not in this sense. In this sense, we don't differ. (I was intending "imperfect" just in the sense of Weinrich's definition: not finalized, such as your broken leg still in the plaster.)
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    After we discussed many aspects of the past, I want to give a hint to the present tense:

    There is a special polite form using the "Präteritum" form:

    If somebody asks you "Wie war Ihr Name?" he does not suspect you changed it. He means "Wie heißen Sie?"

    At the phone: "Wie war gleich Ihr Name?" (As you see in context, it is spoken language.)
    The waitress asks: "Wem gehörte die Jacke?"

    (In extreme cases: "Wer war das Schnitzel?" = "Wem soll ich das Schnitzel bringen?" - Bastian Sick gave a lot of such examples.)

    In both cases it does not mean past tense but present tense. As far as I see it, Perfekt tense can not be used this way. (I'm not sure. "Wie ist gleich Ihr Name gewesen?" ? )

    This way "Präteritum" can have a present meaning.

    Is this wide spread and what does the grammarians say to this form?

    A similar form expresses curiosity.
    The past of curiosity is about the future: "Wann war doch gleich der Start?" (Here Perfekt is not possible in this sense, I think.)
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    When you say "imperfect aspect" you refer to a grammatic concept and its meaning. When you say "Imperfekt" you refer to a verb form (=conjugation scheme) in a given language (here German), independently of its meaning or funtion.
    Yes, but as I said ABBAve, Weinrich is actually mapping those aspects to German tenses, and he does it vice versa: perfect (as in "finalized") aspect = Imperfekt tense, imperfect (as in "not finalized") aspect = Perfekt tense.
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Hutschi, since this is, as you said, spoken language, we are of course using Perfekt in the same sense in Austria: Wem hat die Jacke da gehört?
    I don't agree, though, that this is a total equivalent to present tense. The point is you've told your name before, and the person at the other end didn't memorize it or didn't understand it properly. That's why s/he doesn't ask "wie ist Ihr Name?" (s/he would ask that if you had not told it before) but "wie war er?" in the sense of "was war das noch einmal, was Sie mir vorher gesagt haben?"

    Edit: and yes, in written language, I would consider the use of Präteritum in this sense and situation German (as in German German) dialect. The procedure of A telling B his name by phone is not yet finalized, hence it had to be Perfekt in written standard language.
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hutschi, since this is, as you said, spoken language, we are of course using Perfekt in the same sense in Austria: Wem hat die Jacke da gehört?
    I don't agree, though, that this is a total equivalent to present tense. The point is you've told your name before, and the person at the other end didn't memorize it or didn't understand it properly. That's why s/he doesn't ask "wie ist Ihr Name?" (s/he would ask that if you had not told it before) but "wie war er?" in the sense of "was war das noch einmal, was Sie mir vorher gesagt haben?"
    You are right, it was only a rough translation. I did not tell all connotations. I meant it is about the "Gegenwart" (in a lax sense).
    Of course it can be written, but we consider written dialogues as spoken language, don't we?

    PS: How can I describe in English whether I mean the grammatical form "present tense" or the time "present tense"?
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes, but as I said ABBAve, Weinrich is actually mapping those aspects to German tenses, and he does it vice versa: perfect (as in "finalized") aspect = Imperfekt tense, imperfect (as in "not finalized") aspect = Perfekt tense.
    I think he means the perfective and not the perfect aspect. The terminology can be quite confusing at times.:(

    No, Bernd, not in this sense. In this sense, we don't differ. (I was intending "imperfect" just in the sense of Weinrich's definition: not finalized, such as your broken leg still in the plaster.)
    I see.
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I think he means the perfective and not the perfect aspect. The terminology can be quite confusing at times.:(
    You are perfectly right, Bernd, that's what he meant, and that's what I meant, too. My knowledge of linguistics wasn't simply good enough for that distinction, I had never heard of it. So please understand everything I posted recently about "imperfect aspect" and "perfect aspect" as "imperfective aspect" and "perfective aspect", respectively. Sorry to add to the confusion you mentioned. :(
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Harald Weinrich - Tempus:
    "Wir können auch sagen: daß Vergangenheit im Perfekt nicht als perfectum, sondern als imperfectum erscheint. (Im Imperfekt erscheint Vergangenheit als perfectum.) Dabei ist es nicht zwingend nötig, daß der im Verb ausgedrückte Vorgang selber bis in die Gegenwart weiterläuft."
    Oh but I never doubted that some grammarians think that this is the adequate and correct normative description of German tenses. :) I know that this view exists, you can even find it in (some) German textbooks and grammars.
    (Also I don't think that Weinrich means it this strictly but I couldn't be sure, I've only read a few paragraphs of it on Google books.)

    The problem is that I don't think they are right - first and foremost they're oversimplificating, it isn't perfectly correct to claim that Perfekt is for actions still relevant to the present (be they finished or not; like Iberian Spanish pretérito perfecto) while Präteritum is for things which definitely happened in the past (like Spanish tenses imperfecto and indefinido as used in Iberian Spanish).

    I can offer some examples from Andreu Castell, Gramática de la lengua alemana (a quite extensive German grammar written for Spanish learners, and comparing with Spanish tenses as used in Spain).
    It says there on page 119 that while in dialogues Perfekt is used (vs. Spanish indefinido), in narratives it is Präteritum, and some sample sentences make quite clear that this is true and that Präteritum is not an option even though the action definitely belongs to the past (quoting now):
    - Was hast du nach dem Krieg gemacht?
    - Ich habe zuerst zwei Jahre lang als Kellner gearbeitet.

    In narrative this clearly would be Präteritum (quoting again):
    - Nach dem Krieg arbeitete er zuerst zwei Jahre lang als Kellner.
    (Obviously the questions "was ... gemacht" has no place in the narrative except as indirect speech in Konjunktiv, like: "Er fragte, was er nach dem Krieg gemacht habe, und bekam zur Antowort, er habe/hätte ...")

    So why not a tempus of "the >distant<past" (that is: Präteritum) is used in German dialogues but one of "past still >present<"? That'd be a clear violation of this rule would one try to stick to it. In Spanish a tempus of the past indeed is used - in the Spanish sentence indefinido is used, even in dialogues.

    But of course you also find in this grammar examples where Präteritum is paralleled with Spanish indefinido/imperfecto and Perfekt with Spanish pretérito perfecto.

    In Spanish it is very important not to mix up "distant" past and "past which is still present", or more precisely: in Iberian Spanish it is while in American Spanish indefinido may be used in cases when Spaniards would prefer pretérito perfecto.

    But in German no such distinction exists: not in the same way, not as sharp as in Iberian Spanish - not even for Northerners I think (of course I will accept if Northerners correct me, this is just my opinion, also by judgement of what was written so far in this thread ;)).

    Romance languages (except for French and northern Italian dialects) still distinguish sharply between both "kinds of" path, and so do Bulgarian and Macedonian in Slavic languages.
    But Germanic languages lost this already at Common Germanic stage (which too has been mentioned already), and the similar distinction which developped between Perfekt and Imperfekt in northern Germany is not exactly parallel to the same system in Romance languages.

    In Spanish you can indeed set some event apart from the present on purpose if you use indefinido (instead of pretértio perfecto); but in German this does not work - or only a small minority*) at most would understand such an attempt as such.
    *) That is, a small minority even if we're only speaking of Northern Germany. Let alone the rest of the German speaking region.

    Also it is important that we don't mix this up with Aspekt (aspect) and Aktionsart (for that see Wiki; English uses the German term, or also lexical aspect which however may mislead to misinterpret this as aspect) - neither is (technically speaking) relevant here.

    There is no parallel for Slavic aspect in any one Romance or Germanic language, aspect also exists independently from time in Slavic (which is exploited extensively by Macedonian and Bulgarian, both of whom have a fully developed aspect system as well as past tenses "of the present" and past tenses "of the past").
    Of course people always are mislead to think of Slavic perfective aspect as something similar to Spanish indefinido but I can assure you that this is not the case: you'd get awfully wrong translations if you tried to replace indefinido by perfective aspect. But this post is long enough as it is, and it's anyway leading off-topic (and also there are discussions about this very same topic in Slavic forum already).

    And Aktionsart is something different: Aktionsart actually is the closest you probably get to Slavic aspect but still significantly different: it is the difference between "blühen" - durative and "erblühen" - inchoative, etc.; while Slavic perfective aspect in a verb may make clear that an action has been completed while in imperfective aspect it is left unsaid whether an action has been completed or not - completion is irrelevant with imperfective aspect.
    But that's only a tiny aspect of Slavic aspect (and excuse the pun), I'm only explaining this to make clear that neither Aktionsart nor aspect are, strictly speaking, to the definition of Präteritum and Perfekt.

    So let's put aside that probably no significant percentage of German native speakers (say, more than 10% which I doubt) were using Perfekt and Präteritum consistently in formal written language to mean different things (I don't doubt that a huge percentage of Northerners use both Perfekt and Präteritum - my doubt is about their consistency :)), and that even many teachers of German language are incapable of consistantly using any "clear-cut" rules as formulated by grammarians.

    (And also we'd better put aside Aspekt and Aktionsart here as this might confuse the situation unnecessarily.)


    If we only consider the use of formal standard language by those who have mastered some consistency in distinguishing Perfekt and Präteritum by meaning (and not by style, as is the case in Switzerland, Austria and a good part of Southern Germany at least, and of course I'm talking about formal standard language here) it is still impossible to clearly distinguish Perfekt as the "tense of anything which still has relevance to the present" while Präteritum were the "tense which strictly refers to the past".

    As Bernd said:
    The choice depends on what you are talking about, whether you are talking about the past event or action of breaking a leg or drilling or whether you are talking about to state of your leg still being in plaster or your teeth still hurting or your teeth being in such a poor state that the dentist had to drill. [/FONT][/COLOR]
    This is interesting: so in narrative mood (say, we're interviewing a football player) it would be Präteritum:
    (A) "Letzte Saison war ich kaum im Einsatz, da brach ich mir ja schon in der dritten Runde den Fuss, aber diese Saison war richtig gut!"
    (I still think that even Northerners might say here "habe ... gebrochen", or if they didn't then "hatte ... gebrochen" which I would consider grammatically incorrect in this case. The action is completed and part of the past either way.)
    But Perfekt if referring in some way to the present:
    (B) "Diese Saison bin ich ja kaum im Einsatz gewesen, ich habe mir schon in der dritten Runde den Fuss gebrochen." (He's still in plaster, or if he's playing already then still hasn't found his form, so still his broken leg is of relevance to the present.)

    Sentence (A) would be incorrect in Spanish if you use pretérito perfecto = more or less Perfekt. If Northerners would consider Präteritum being not only idiomatic but the only correct choice if you want to give this exact meaning (that is, you need to use Präteritum else people would think you're still in plaster) then I'm inclined to accept that such a rule as suggested by Tifoso could exist; however, I'm doubting this.
    In sentence (B) I think you could use both pretérito perfecto = "Perfekt" in Spanish (which however would strongly emphasise that you're still in plaster) and indefinido = to be paralleled with Präteritum (this would emphasise that he's playing again, that the broken leg is past tense for him literally). Again, if it were clear by using of Perfekt alone that you're still in plaster (or at least not fully recovered) I would accept „Tifoso's rule“, but again, I doubt it: I think the use of Perfekt, even for Northerners, wouldn't rule out the option that you've recovered fully already.

    (And sorry for only picking a few statements out of the last posts but my answer is too long already as it is.)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    This is interesting: so in narrative mood (say, we're interviewing a football player) it would be Präteritum:
    (A) "Letzte Saison war ich kaum im Einsatz, da brach ich mir ja schon in der dritten Runde den Fuss, aber diese Saison war richtig gut!"
    (I still think that even Northerners might say here "habe ... gebrochen", or if they didn't then "hatte ... gebrochen" which I would consider grammatically incorrect in this case. The action is completed and part of the past either way.)
    But Perfekt if referring in some way to the present:
    (B) "Diese Saison bin ich ja kaum im Einsatz gewesen, ich habe mir schon in der dritten Runde den Fuss gebrochen." (He's still in plaster, or if he's playing already then still hasn't found his form, so still his broken leg is of relevance to the present.)
    Yes, and I would use "hatte ... gebrochen"... (plus there is a high chance I might call "Bein" what you call "Fuss", but that is a different matter:D).
     

    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    This discussion is still growing better :thumbsup: - thank you for this extraordinarily interesting post, and allow me to pick out just few points, as well.
    ...they're oversimplificating...
    Granted, and so did I, but you have to admit I said from the very beginning that I was going to simplify. Of course it's valuable to add and discuss all qualifications, exceptions and deviations, but if you want to explain a rule, a certain amount of simplification is indispensable. Just about every aspect of every language is too complex to be expressed in a rule without any simplification. As for the blurred lines between the two tenses, we've been discussing them broadly on this thread. So the question, for me, is whether the (necessarily simplified) rule contains a valid explanation or not, and not the simplification itself.

    It says there on page 119 that while in dialogues Perfekt is used (vs. Spanish indefinido), in narratives it is Präteritum, and some sample sentences make quite clear that this is true and that Präteritum is not an option even though the action definitely belongs to the past (quoting now):
    - Was hast du nach dem Krieg gemacht?
    - Ich habe zuerst zwei Jahre lang als Kellner gearbeitet.
    (...)
    So why not a tempus of "the >distant<past" (that is: Präteritum) is used in German dialogues but one of "past still >present<"? That'd be a clear violation of this rule would one try to stick to it.
    I think we agree that the present moment for which a past action/condition has to be relevant in order to be expressed in Perfekt is not OUR present moment, but the present moment of the speaker. Even "my rule" would do the job of explaining why Perfekt is being used in this direct speech: I imagine the two persons didn't meet since the war, so they're about to fill the gap of information, to recount their lives up to the present moment. So no violation of the rule.
    But not very surprisingly, "Weinrich's rule" does the job even better: if you read Hagestedt's explanatory article to which I've linked on the last page, you'll see that Weinrich, obviously, deduces from his basic "Perfekt is not finalized past and Präteritum is finalized past" rule that Präsens and Perfekt represent "gespanntes Reden" about the past (may we call them the "intense tenses" :D in English?), Präteritum and Plusquamperfekt, on the other hand, "entspanntes Reden" (the "laid back tenses", perhaps). So if it really matters to the two persons of the dialogue, Perfekt is used. Remember, it may be as distant as possible - it doesn't need to go on, just to be of any importance for the present moment, more precisely: for the speaker at his/her present moment. Not for the author who may write about it 40 years later, and not for the reader who may read about it 220 years later.

    Again, if it were clear by using of Perfekt alone that you're still in plaster (or at least not fully recovered) I would accept „Tifoso's rule“, but again, I doubt it...
    Let me add that while it might be considered flattering for me that you are calling it "Tifoso's rule", it might also be somewhat diminutive for the rule; I'm only the last and the least person who phrased a rule of (roughly) the same content - it might be more appropriate to call it "Weinrich's rule", or at least, if we're not sure enough about Weinrich before really reading his book, "Hans Weigel's rule". This is to say that I'm not as important as the term "Tifoso's rule" might imply; and not as lonely on my position as it might imply, too.
     

    thomas9

    Member
    English-USA
    Moderator note: Merged threads.

    I know that the simple past (ich saß) is used more in writing than ich habe gesessen. In Bavaria, where I study, I have heard that it is almost always ich habe gemacht instead of the simple past, ich machte (ect.).

    My question is, if someone (in Bavaria especially) is telling a story, should one use the simple past in order to shorten the sentences or always use the imperfect?
    For example:
    I went to the store, and on the train I sat next to a girl. Then as I was shopping, I saw her again.

    Is it:
    Ich bin zum Laden geganen, und in der Ubahn habe ich neben einem Mädel gesessen. Dann als ich eingekauft habe, habe ich sie noch mal gesehen

    OR

    Ich bin zum Laden gegangen, und in der Ubahn saß ich neben einem Mädel.
    Dann, als ich einkaufte, habe ich sie noch mal gesehen

    THANKS
     
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    Tifoso Bonisolli

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    In spoken language, in Bavaria and Austria, Perfekt only... You may want to read this long but interesting thread, all the answers you're looking for are to be found here already.
     

    Alaedious

    Senior Member
    American English
    If you're asking about spoken language, the Austrian standard version would be "Ich habe gewusst, dass sein Vater trinkt", the past being indicated by Perfekt (since we have no Präteritum in spoken language here), the present tense in the clause indicating that it happened at the same level of time as the main clause (it was then, when I knew it, present reality).
    So, Tifoso, in spoken Austrian German, one wouldn't say "Ich habe gewusst, dass sein Vater getrunken hat"?

    The mere fact that one begins the sentence with "Ich habe gewusst" lets the speaker know that they're talking about the past?
     
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    chrisabraham

    New Member
    English - United States
    I have stumbled into gold in this site and this topic. What I have discovered in exploring and considering all of your words is that maybe the German "past tense" in modern, spoken, German -- and even in written German -- is less complicated than English's. I believe the confusion here -- and why this thread is both so long with twins elsewhere -- is that we're unwilling to let go of the nuance and complexity of both French past and English past and just accept that the past, in German, has lest to do with grammar form, necessarily, and more to do with context and sentence structure. That said, I am new here and may very well have either misinterpreted or maybe even put words in your mouths.
     
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