I read the sentence below but I do not understand the "change of state" part; please help me.

A verb takes sein in perfect if and only if the verb is used intransitively AND the nominative subject undergoes a change of state, except for bleiben, which is the lone exception.

The examples given are

Er hat auf den Mann geschossen


Die Kugel ist aus dem Gewehr geschossen

  • "If and only if" sounds a bit precise for a grammatical rule; this isn't mathematics. In my experience there are always exceptions and cases where a rule is difficult to interpret. Movement from one place to another usually means you use sein, so I guess the movement is supposed to be a "change of state" in the rule, but it's not obvious. In Die Hunde sind dem Fuchs gefolgt, the verb has a dative object, so not intransitive. In Was ist passiert?, are we saying was had 'a change of state'? In Du bist gut klargekommen, the point is that there is no 'change of state'.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 1:57
  • I think everybody learning German learns that verbs of movement use sein for the perfect. Ironically, sich bewegen uses haben. However, this is easily explained by the fact that sich bewegen is the reflexive form of bewegen which is transitive.
    – RHa
    Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


Er hat auf den Mann geschossen.

Er is subject and does not undergo a change of state, which explains why haben is used with the perfect.

Die Kugel ist aus dem Gewehr geschossen.

The bullet is subject and undergoes a change of state by moving out of the gun, which explains why sein is used with the perfect.

Actually, schießen is not one but two verbs. One means to shoot and its perfect uses haben. The other means something like to move very fast and its perfect uses sein.

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