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In some dictionaries, contrary to what Wiktionary states, one can find that, say, verderben allows both sein and haben as auxiliary verbs to form the Perfekt. That's the case for these verbs as well:

biegen, brechen, fahren (seriously?), gären, reißen, reiten, schwimmen, treten, verderben, ziehen.

The list is not complete, I guess.

The question is: When should I use each auxiliary verb?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Most of these verbs can be used either as transitive or intransitive verbs, with different meaning. When used as transitive verbs, they form the perfect with haben.

Ich bin nach Hause gefahren. Ich habe Sebastian nach Hause gefahren.
Das Seil ist gerissen. Der Stabhochspringer hat die Latte gerissen.
Die Vorräte sind nach und nach verdorben. Computerspiele haben die Jugend verdorben.

See Canoo for a more extensive discussion.

A special case are the three verbs stehen, sitzen, liegen and some prefixed derivatives that are still close in meaning. In standard German, they form the perfect with haben, and this is true for spoken German in northern Germany as well. In the south, however, including Austria and Switzerland, these verbs are treated like verbs of movement, with a sein perfect.

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Sorry, it is stil not clear to me if when I add a time complement, for instance diesen Abend, should I use haben? Strictly speaking diesen Abend is in Akkusative, so I don't know if the verb becomes transitive by adding that complement or not? (Diesen Abend habe|bin ich nicht geschwommen). – c.p. Aug 31 '13 at 6:45
@c.p.: Diesen Abend and similar constructions aren't objects, so there is no influence on the verb. - While thinking about this, I notice that there is a special class of objects to verbs of movement: Ich bin den Berliner Marathon gelaufen. Ich bin einen weiten Umweg gefahren. – chirlu Aug 31 '13 at 7:08

Here some examples for the verbs you mention. I give for each verb a sentence with sein-perfect and for haben-perfect. You will see that "sein" is usually used when the verb has an intransitive meaning and "haben" is mostly used when the verb has an transitive meaning (i.e. if there is a direct object):

Die Wurst verdirbt. Sie ist verdorben. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Du verdirbst mir (mit deinen Spoilern) den Roman. Du hast ihn mir verdorben. (transitive, haben-perfect)

Franz biegt um die Ecke. Er ist um die Ecke gebogen. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Marie biegt die Eisenstange. Sie hat sie gebogen. (transitive, haben-perfect)

Das Regal bricht unter den Lasten. Es ist gebrochen. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Jesus bricht das Brot. Er hat es gebrochen. (transitive, haben-perfect)

Die Vogelschar zieht nach Süden. Sie ist nach Süden gezogen. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Anne zieht am Seil. Sie hat am Seil gezogen. (transitive, haben-perfect)

Ein Gummiband reißt unter Zug. Es ist gerissen. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Der Hochspringer reißt die Latte. Er hat sie gerissen. (transitive, haben-perfect)

Julia fährt mit dem Auto. Sie ist gefahren. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Armstrong fährt die Tour de France (nicht mehr). Er hat sie (aber schon mal) gefahren. (transitive, haben-perfect; some native speakers may prefer "er ist sie gefahren")

Manfred reitet gerne. Er ist gestern geritten. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Manfreds reitet gerne sein rotes Pferd. Er hat es gestern geritten. (transitive, haben-perfect; same as for "fahren")

Claudia schwimmt jeden Montag. Letzten Montag ist sie auch geschwommen. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Manchmal schwimmt Claudia 20 Bahnen. Sie hat sie geschwommen. (transitive, haben-perfect; same as for "fahren")

Felix tritt nach vorne. Er ist nach vorne getreten. (intransitive, sein-perfect)

Im Streit tritt Karl seinen Bruder. Er hat ihn getreten. (transitive, haben-perfect)

The verbs of motion "fahren", "schwimmen" and "reiten" (and some more, I guess) may be used with "haben" and "sein" regardless of transitivity. This is sort of a north-south issue.

"Gären" is a bit different. The sentences

Der Most ist gegoren. Der Most hat gegoren.

mean the same thing. In the first sentence you describe a bit more the result, in the second sentence you describe a tiny bit more the process of fermentation.

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could you give an example for "fahren" being used intransitively with "haben". I don't really know what you are going for with that statement – Emanuel Aug 30 '13 at 10:06
The word "gegoren" is an adjective in "Der Most ist gegoren.". – rimrul Aug 30 '13 at 14:28
@rimrul: Not necessarily. You could add, e.g., nach und nach (as I did in my example sentence with verderben in my answer, exactly in order to avoid the interpretation as an adjective). – chirlu Sep 2 '13 at 10:20

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