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I'm assuming "Sie fegte über die Bühne" could reasonably be translated as "She swept across the stage" and "Sie fegte die Bühne" as "She swept the stage".

The conjugation in an online resource gives these two alternatives: "ist gefegt" and "hat gefegt".

Would I be right in surmising that the first alternative applies to the first usage above and the second to the second? Thus:

"Sie ist über die Bühne gefegt"

"Sie hat die Bühne gefegt".

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Your surmise seems right to me.

One of the cases where one should use "sein" for perfect tense is:

  • With action verbs that denote a change of place and not necessarily just movement, e.g. tanzen

So, in your example, the verb "fegen" is conjugated in perfect tense using "sein" when it denotes a change of place or movement. For the other usage it's conjugated using "haben":

Sie ist über die Bühne gefegt: She swept across the stage.

Sie hat die Bühne gefegt: She swept the stage.

Also, reading an article about "Sein" and "Haben" would be helpful.

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As a native speaker, my first thought was: you're right. "Sie fegte über die Bühne." translates as "She ran across the stage.", which describes a movement like "Sie ist gelaufen" ("She walked"). Whereas the second "Sie fegte die Bühne" means - as you wrote - "She swept the stage", which is more of a crafting act like "She painted the stage" ("Sie hat die Bühne gestrichen").

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But what about "ist" versus "hat"? Is my surmise correct? I.e. "ist" is used when it's like "laufen" and "hat" when it's like "strichen"? –  Michael Hardy Dec 1 '11 at 19:45
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The way you said "my first thought was [...]" made me expect a sentence like "but then I changed my mind"! –  user508 Dec 1 '11 at 19:53
    
@Gigili, I wanted to express the sudden feeling of "correctness" I had when I read the question. –  Coffinwood Blackheim Dec 1 '11 at 19:57
    
@CoffinwoodBlackheim: I see, I only got the impression, no offence. –  user508 Dec 1 '11 at 20:15
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Ja, die Vermutung ist absolut richtig.

Sie ist über die Bühne gefegt.

means acting,

Sie hat die Bühne gefegt.

means to do the cleaning.

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+1. I don't know why someone down-voted this answer. –  Michael Hardy Dec 30 '11 at 2:52
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