My question is about the difference between these two sentences:

Der Hund lief neben der Herde mit. (Imperfekt)


Der Hund ist neben der Herde mitgelaufen. (Perfekt)

I think both sentences are grammatically correct, but where's the difference? When do you use one, but not the other?

  • Could you do me and other users on mobile devices a favor, please? Use code formatting only for code, as it has no automatic line breaks: This makes reading longer lines almost impossible to read. Thanks!
    – Stephie
    Apr 9 '18 at 11:23
  • Sure, no problem. I'll keep it in mind for next time.
    – fukiburi
    Apr 10 '18 at 9:25

Thanks to Beta and RHa pointing out the correct namings for both forms, I was able to find the answer myself.

Similar to the English versions, it seems Imperfekt is used when something started and ended in the past, while with Perfekt something started in the past and has some sort of impact on the present (also may or may not have ended in the present).

  • Yes, this is true for written German. However in spoken, and particularly colloquial German you use the imperfect very little, but for a few verbs such as "sein" and "werden". I.e the perfect here replaces imperfect.
    – Beta
    Apr 9 '18 at 11:04
  • Although my question is actually geared towards written German, I got confused since both versions spoken aloud seem very familiar ("normal"). Maybe it's regional, but I really don't know.
    – fukiburi
    Apr 9 '18 at 15:05

Der Hund ist neben der Herde mitgelaufen

is Perfekt which consists of Partizip 2 and the indicative present of Haben or Sein, depending on the main verb. In the case of mitlaufen, it's Sein which here becomes ist.

Perfekt is used when something happened in the past and is usually preferred over the preterite in spoken language.

Partizip 2 cannot be used alone as a verb in a sentence because it is not a finite verb form. If you see it without an auxillary verb there is an implied auxillary which has been omitted.

  • Thanks for pointing out the correct naming. With this I was finally able to google the differences between the two.
    – fukiburi
    Apr 9 '18 at 10:56

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