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When I tell someone about my childhood for example - What will be correct? Or can I use both tenses?

Als ich 16 war, ging ich auf eine Privatschule.

Or

Als ich 16 war, bin ich auf eine Privatschule gegangen.

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    Less formal: Mit 16 war ich auf einer Privatschule. – moooeeeep May 17 '18 at 11:31
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Since you usually go to a school over a long period of time, you would use perfect. However, gehen is a verb including movement, so you use bin instead of habe. Also, it is the Privatschule and the Präposition should be auf instead of zu (if the gehen means that you are enrolled in that school).

Correct version:

Als ich 16 war, bin ich auf eine Privatschule gegangen.

Example with simple past:

Als es 20:00 Uhr war, ging ich zu Tina.

|improve this answer|||||
  • What about "Als es 8 Uhr was, bin ich zu Tina gegangen". Works as well? – Tomas May 16 '18 at 19:25
  • It is a bit colloquial. If you write a formal letter, you would use the simple past, but in a conversation nobody will care if you use the perfect there. – Kilian Batzner May 16 '18 at 19:27
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    This can be generalized, too. Most of the time, perfect ist used orally, and simple past in written language. However, there are exceptions, e.g. "sein". – SomeWindowsUser May 16 '18 at 20:44

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