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German Tenses - Introduction

How to use German tenses

There are six tenses in German: Present, Perfect, Imperfect, Past Perfect, Future I and Future II. Here you will learn when to use these tenses.


Overview of German tenses with verb conjugations

The German language has six tenses: Present, Perfect, Imperfect, Past Perfect, Future I and Future II. Here is an overview of the rules of regular and irregular conjugation of verbs in the different tenses.

Present tense
The present tense is the most used tense in German. We use this tense mainly to speak about the present and the future.
Ich lerne, I learn
Ich sehe, I see

Past tense / Imperfect
The past tense is used to express facts and doings in the past. We use this tense for narratives and reporting, especially in written language.
Ich lernte, I learned
Ich sah, I saw

Future Tense I
We use the future tense I mainly to describe an intention for the future or an assumption for the present/future.
Ich werde lernen, I will learn
Ich werde sehen, I will see

Perfect tense
We use the perfect tense to express that an action was completed in the past, focusing on the result or consequence of the action.
Ich habe gelernt, I have learned
Ich habe gesehen, I have seen

Past Perfect Tense
We use the past perfect tense when talking about the past (in the past tense) and looking back at something that happened earlier.
Ich hatte gesehen, I had learned
Ich hatte gesehen, I had seen


Future tense II
The future tense II expresses an assumption that an action will be completed at the time of the expression or at a later time.
Ich werde gelernt haben, I will have learned
Ich werde gesehen haben, I will have seen

Table of Conjugation (2).jpg

Example sentences

in Present, Perfect, Imperfect, Past Perfect, Future I and Future II.

Present: Ich habe Hunger.

Imperfect: Ich hatte Hunger.

Present Perfect: Ich habe Hunger gehabt.

Past perfect: Ich hatte Hunger gehabt.

Futur I: Ich werde Hunger haben.

Futur II: Ich werde Hunger gehabt haben.

Present: Ich lerne Deutsch.

Imperfect: Ich lernte Deutsch.

Present Perfect: Ich habe Deutsch gelernt.

Past perfect: Ich hatte Deutsch gelernt .

Futur I: Ich werde Deutsch lernen.

Futur II: Ich werde Deutsch gelernt haben.

Present: Ich bin verliebt.

Imperfect: Ich war verliebt.

Present Perfect: Ich bin verliebt gewesen.

Past perfect: Ich war verliebt gewesen.

Futur I: Ich werde verliebt sein.

Futur II:Ich werde verliebt gewesen sein.

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