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We have learned in A1 that if we want to make a sentence in a perfect tense, we should use haben followed by the verb in the past participle.
For example, the sentence

We have made a bike tour.

reads in German:

Wir haben eine Radtour gemacht.

However, both Google Translate and DeepL Translate returns

Wir haben eine Radtour gemacht.

as:

We made a bike tour.

which is a simple past tense.

What am I missing here?

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    We made a bike tour is unidiomatic and in fact Deepl gives the correct translation we went for a bike ride. - But why does it bother you that a German perfect can correspond to an English simple past? They're different languages.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 9:48
  • @DavidVogt Thanks for your comment. I was confused because sometimes Google Translate and DeepL Translate give past tense and sometimes perfect tense.
    – user44338
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 9:51
  • @πάνταῥεῖ Thanks for the link. It seems interesting, please let me read it.
    – user44338
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 12:50
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    While Google Translate is probably not that bad for German, please understand that it's not perfect either
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 12:59

1 Answer 1

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Perfect tense in English and perfect tense in German differ in meaning and usage.

The present perfect tense in English describes a past event that has present tense implications. The perfect in German simply describes past events, and can be used interchangeably with the past tense/preterite.

So, if you have a sentence in German which uses perfect tense to describe past events, but without expressing any implications for the present, using perfect tense in the English translation would be wrong. You have to use past tense.

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