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In my book there are sentences;

  1. Von 1982 bis 1990 ___ Steffi mit Jens und Kevin in die Thomas Schule gegangen.
  2. Ihr Abitur ___ sie 1990 gemacht.
  3. Im Studium ___ sie ihren Traumman Markus getroffen.
  4. 1996 ___ Markus und Steffi geheiratet.

I know that I'll use "sein" verb in the 1. and 4. sentence and "haben" verb for other ones. But I didn't understand that what is the verb conjugation. Will I conjugate years, places with "hat" and "ist" always?

2 Answers 2

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The Perfekt (there is no "perfect tense" in German) is always constructed with the Präsens of "haben" or "sein" plus the "Partizip Perferkt Passiv" of the verb. When you have to use "haben" and when to use "sein" you have to remember, it depends (only!) on the verb you use and has nothing to do with years or places or anything else, for that matter. (The good news is that "haben" and "sein" won't change in Plusquamperfekt. If you use "haben" for Perfekt you will also use it for Plusquamperfekt, same for "sein". The difference being that you use the Präteritum of "haben" or "sein" in Plusquamperfekt instead of the Präsens.)

You got the application of "haben" and "sein" only partially correct: 1 goes with "sein", the others all with "haben".

Now about the correct form: The verb always corresponds to the subject of the sentence. Since all the sentences 1-3 talk about "Steffi", a single person, you use 3rd person singular: "hat"/"ist". Sentence 4 is about two people, therefore you use 3rd person plural: "haben"/"sind". Here is a table:

Singular:

Ich bin gegangen und habe gegessen.
Du bist gegangen und hast gegessen.
Er/Sie/Es ist gegangen und hat gegessen.

Plural:

Wir sind gegangen und haben gegessen.
Ihr seid gegangen und habt gegessen.
Sie sind gegangen und haben gegessen.

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  • Das ist missverständlich formuliert: im PQP ändert sich haben und sein schon. Es wird die Vergangenheitsform des gleichen Hilfsverbs genutzt, d. H. von haben bzw sein verwendet. Jan 23, 2023 at 3:53
  • Thanks. I have only 1 question "Steffi mit Jens und Kevin" isn't it more than one people? Why we are using think that as singular? Jan 23, 2023 at 6:18
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    In "Steffi mit Jens und Kevin" there is only one subject: Steffi. "mit Jens und Kevin" is syntactically not part of the subject.
    – RHa
    Jan 23, 2023 at 7:33
  • Verbs of movement generally use sein with the perfect. That's why it has to be sind gegangen in sentence #1.
    – RHa
    Jan 23, 2023 at 7:41
  • @planetmaker: ja, genau so war es gemeint. Ich habe eine verdeutlichende Ergänzung vorgenommen.
    – bakunin
    Jan 23, 2023 at 13:01
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Quote: »I know that I'll use "sein" verb in the 1. and 4. sentence and "haben" verb for other ones.« - Sorry that's wrong. It's correct for the sentences 1, 2 and 3, but wrong for sentence 4. Here are the correct sentences:

  1. Von 1982 bis 1990 ist Steffi mit Jens und Kevin in die Thomas Schule gegangen.
  2. Ihr Abitur hat sie 1990 gemacht.
  3. Im Studium hat sie ihren Traumman Markus getroffen.
  4. 1996 haben Markus und Steffi geheiratet.

Quote: »But I didn't understand that what is the verb conjugation. Will I conjugate years, places with "hat" and "ist" always?«

Don't mix up:

  • Konjugation (in English: conjugation)
    This is what you do with verbs to grammatically adjust them to ...

    • number of the subject (singular or plural)
    • person of the subject (1st, 2nd or 3rd person)
    • honorable form (Du or Sie, only for 2nd person)
    • tense (German has 6 tenses)
    • mode (Indikativ, Konjunktiv (in Engl.: subjunctive), Imperativ)
    • voice (active or passive)
  • Deklination (english: declension)
    This is what you do with nouns, and some words that accompany nouns (adjectives, pronouns, numerals, article etc.) to adjust them to ...

    • grammatical gender (The gender of nouns is fix, the gender of other words must match with the gender of the noun to which it belongs)
    • number (singular or plural)
    • grammatical case (nominative, genitive, dative or accusative)
    • comparison (positive, comparative, superlative) (only for adjectives and participles)

So, the only category that conjugation and declination have in common is the number (singular/plural). So you never conjugate years or places because they are nouns.

The umbrella term for Kunjugation and Deklination is Flexion or Beugung (in English: inflection)


I think the question you really wanted to ask is this:

When do I have to use a form of haben and when a form of sein when I use verbs in the German tense Perfekt?

The answer is: This depends on the verb only. It does not depend on the subject or other objects. This is an intrinsic property of each verb. You have to learn for each individual verb which auxiliary verb it needs. This is how German native speakers deal with auxiliary verbs, and it is very similar to learning the gender of each individual noun.

But learning the right auxiliary verb is easier than learning the nouns of genders, because you can group the verbs to clusters with similar usage and all verbs within such a cluster use the same auxiliary verb.

But be aware, that there is not much logic behind this system. There are even regional differences:

  • In most parts of Germany you say: »Ich habe gesessen«.
  • In Austria, Switzerland and southern parts of Germany people say: »Ich bin gesessen«.

(Same for liegen, stehen and other verbs that indicate a person's posture.)

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