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I’m looking for the exact logical translation for:

The things you have been making.

I.e. something like “die Sachen, an denen du gearbeitet hast”, but using machen, and can’t find the right words.

These are my attempts so far:

Die Sachen, an denen du bisher am machen warst.

Die Sachen, mit dessen Schaffung du bisher beschäftigt warst.

However, they both sound very weird.

Does an equivalent grammatical structure exist in German?

  • Die Sachen, die du gemacht hast. – Jan Nov 12 '16 at 17:20
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    @Jan Ich glaube, dass mit "exact translation" gemeint ist, dass aus dem Satz klar hervorgehen muss, dass die Tätigkeit möglicherweise noch andauert, möglicherweise aber auch nicht. – Martin Rosenau Nov 13 '16 at 7:01
  • @MartinRosenau eigentlich schon, ja. – Zubo Nov 13 '16 at 13:56
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It’s very simple; just think of the present first:

The things you are making.
Die Sachen, die du machst.

And then transform it into the past tense:

The things you have been making.
Die Sachen, die du gemacht hast. (or: machtest; uncommon)

The key here is that in English you need to take care of two things: the choice of present progressive (because it is a process you want to express) and the correct choice of past tense (simple past or present perfect?) which gives a slightly different nuance. ‘The things you have been making’ implies that they are done while ‘the things you were making’ doesn’t.

German makes neither of these distinctions. Instead, they are inferred from surrounding additional context. Thus, the exact translation is the one mentioned above, even though it is also the exact translation for ‘the things you were making.’

However, some colloquial flavours of German have a colloquial progressive form. (The Rhine area jumps to mind.) Therein, you could at least express the progressive aspect as:

Die Sachen, die du am machen warst.


If you want to imply the finished bit, you can only truly do that adding additional words:

Die Sachen, die du fertig gemacht hast.

  • Thanks) Weirdly enough, "Die Sachen, die du am machen warst", although it sounds very weird, actually pretty much nails it. – Zubo Nov 13 '16 at 13:50
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    Actually, from here: ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/present-perfect-progressive I see that in English, present perfect progressive does not necessarily indicate that the process is finished, merely that it has been going on up to now. The problem that I see here is that "Die Sachen, die du gemacht hast" to me definitely sounds complete, there is no on-going there. Am I wrong in this feeling? – Zubo Nov 13 '16 at 13:58
  • @Zubo In German, it can technically be either; but without any additional context I would probably assume that it was a past thing. If it continues to the present, the other person would maybe answer ‘… die ich immer noch mache …’ – Jan Nov 13 '16 at 15:45
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    I see, so, if I got this right, you're saying that while it might work technically, in German, this should really be translated by adding in context, if possible. Thanks for taking the time! – Zubo Nov 14 '16 at 19:08
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The things you are making

implies that this is happening right now, so

Die Sachen, die Du gerade machst / an denen Du gerade arbeitest

whereas

The things you have been making

refers to some starting point in the past and the action is still going on

Die Sachen die Du machst / an denen Du arbeitest

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