1

So if I have a complex sentence that requires multiple tenses, how would I form that properly like if you were to say something like

They won the battle, but they will not win the war.

or

While I was at the store, I bought a ham, which I will make for dinner tomorrow.

How would you do this in writing? And is it different from speaking (since there are two past tense forms)?

3

German is very lax with tenses, having an English speaker go nuts about German tenses is something I consider impossible. It's always the other way round.

They won the battle, but they will not win the war.

Sie haben die Schlacht gewonnen, aber sie werden den Krieg nicht gewinnen.

That example matches English nearly 1:1, with the exception Perfekt is used in German as this sentence is obviously taken from speech.

While I was at the store I bought a ham, which I will make for dinner tomorrow.

Als ich im Laden war habe ich einen Schinken gekauft, den ich morgen zum Essen mache.

Again, this is obviously taken from speech, so Perfekt. And Präsens in the relative clause because Futur I is reserved for cases where we don't have a marker word as morgen.

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  • Agreed, for all the difficulties of the German language, usage of tense (or even aspect) is pretty primitive compared to English. As a German learning English, getting a good feeling for tense and aspect was one of the harder parts for me. – Jimi Jackson Sep 30 '17 at 22:11

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