I came across these sentences with their translations:

Du bist aus Berlin gekommen. - You have come from Berlin.

Wo seid ihr so lange gewesen? - Where were you so long?

From what I have read on the subject, Perfekt is used for completed actions and is sometimes translated with past simple, and sometimes with present perfect, depending on the context. Since these sentences were taken out of context, I have the following questions:

  1. Is it possible to translate the first sentence also as "You came from Berlin."
  2. Is it possible to translate the second sentence also as "Where have you been so long?"
  3. Is there any rule when to translate Perfekt with past simple and when - present perfect?
  • Good and proper translations rely heavily on context. Sometimes one language may state something in the present which would be translated in the past or future tense in another language. Context dictates the proper answer. It's difficult to come up with too many hard and fast rules that won't have exceptions anyway. Just a side note. ;-)
    – Kevin
    Apr 20, 2013 at 15:38
  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the English language.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 11, 2014 at 19:51
  • When I asked the question I believed it would help me understand better how the German language worked. Luckily, I have gone a long way since then and now I would not ask something like that, and would be able to answer such a question myself. If someone feels the question does not belong here, I can delete it.
    – fluffy
    Dec 12, 2014 at 2:03
  • 2
    I don't think it's a good question, but I don't think it should be closed either.
    – Em1
    Dec 12, 2014 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


This question seems to be more about English than German grammar actually...

  1. Yes. "You came from Berlin" means the action was completed in the past. The present perfect indicates that the action is not complete or has still influence on the present. So "You have come from Berlin" is used, for example, right after the person arrived.
  2. Yes. Actually, This sounds more natural and I don't know in what context the simple past would make sense.
  3. See 1.
  • So it can be translated as either, and it depends not on the German sentence, but more on the use of the English tenses?
    – fluffy
    Apr 20, 2013 at 10:16
  • Exactly. The usage of tenses is not as strict in German as it is in English. In spoken German, people use almost exclusively Perfekt, while in written German the usage is more like in English.
    – Anke
    Apr 20, 2013 at 10:39

1 and 2 are alright.

"You have come from Berlin" implies "You are right now (continuously) staying in Berlin", so it is ok.

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