verstehen vs. verstanden

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JohnnyA

Member
English
Verstanden has a social dimension -- “Sie haben sich nicht verstanden” -- “They didn’t get on well together,” and even the sense of "recognizing" has a social element in it. Does verstehen equally have these resonances, or less so?
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Verstehen is the infinitive and verstanden the past participle of the very same verb.

    Ich werde ihn verstehen - I will understand him.
    Ich habe ihn verstanden - I have understood him.
     

    JohnnyA

    Member
    English
    yes, but does the shift in tense with the participal (as something having been accomplished) lend this additional meaning?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    No! This would be horrible. By transposing a sentence into a different tense you must not alter its meaning. In my examples there is the same sentence once in future and once in perfect tense.

    I think you are referring to the difference between the reflexive verb sich verstehen and the transitive verb etwas oder jemanden verstehen. Both verbs can exists in all tenses. Here is a sentence with sich verstehen in the same two tenses as in my example above which used etwas oder jemanden verstehen:
    Sie werden sich nicht verstehen (future tense).
    Sie haben sich nicht verstanden (perfect tense).
     
    Last edited:

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Sie haben sich nicht verstanden."

    This can have two meanings:

    1. They didn’t get on well together.
    2. They did not understand (grasp the meaning) what the other was saying.

    Which of it is meant depends on the context.

    Sie haben sich nicht verstanden und deshalb scheiden lassen. (1. Bedeutung.)
    Sie telefonierten miteinander. Sie haben sich nicht verstanden, weil die Verbindung so schlecht war. (2. Bedeutung. This refers to "etwas verstehen".)
     
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