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Write the following sentences in simple past:

  1. Ferdinand - das Projekt - nicht übernehmen wollen

  2. Frau Schneider - die Dienstreise - nach Portugal - absagen müssen

A:

  1. Es ist schade, dass Ferdinand das Projekt nicht übernehmen wollte

  2. Es ist schade, dass Frau Schneider die Dienstreise nach Portugal absagen müsste.

In this, and a lot of similar exercise, the preterite was always created using dass. Could someone explain what the difference between dass preterite and normal preterite is?

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    Not sure, whether I understand the question correctly. Präteritum exists without dass, as in Ferdinand wollte das Projekt nicht übernehmen, and dass can be used with other tenses as well: Ich glaube, dass Ferdinand das Projekt nicht übernehmen will.
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 8:35
  • Your sentences indeed don't seem to answer the exact question.
    – tofro
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 15:58
  • I fixed your umlauts. Please make the effort to use proper äöüß.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 16:41

1 Answer 1

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First off: you do yourself a favour if you don't mix english grammar and german grammar. Yes, the english "simple past" is (more or less, and, for that matter, rather less than more) the same as german "Präteritum", but times are used vastly different in English and German. Using different names (even if they are more or less equivalent) will help you not confuse one with the other.

Corollary: the same with "direct" and "indirect objects" in English and "Dativobjekt" and "Akkusativobjekt" in German: sometimes they are equivalent, but sometimes not - basically they are different things and better treated that way. The same goes for any other grammatical category.

Now, to your problem:

"Daß" (or "dass", as the modern standardized way of writing wrongly dictates) doesn't have to do anything at all with tenses. It connects (main and relative) sentences and means "(so) that" or indicates a causal relationship.

For instance, your example sentence:

Es ist schade, dass Ferdinand das Projekt nicht übernehmen wollte.
It is a pity that Ferdinand didn't want to take over the project.

or:

Er schlug auf den Tisch, daß die Gläser umfielen.
He pounded the table so that the glasses toppled over.

Having said this: Präteritum is the german tense for storytelling. That Ferdinand didn't want to take the project is the story but the sentence itself is: "es ist schade". The rest of the sentence is just the explanation what "es" exactly is about and why it is a pity. This is why the times in the main sentence and the relative sentence don't agree: Ferdinand declined the project at some time in the past but it is a pity now.

But then, I think your answers are quite wrong anyway, because the "es ist schade" is completely superfluous. For instance:

Ferdinand - das Projekt - nicht übernehmen wollen
Ferdinand wollte das Projekt nicht übernehmen.

And this sentence could be put in any other tense too:

Ferdinand will das Projekt nicht übernehmen.
Ferdinand hat das Projekt nicht übernehmen wollen.
Ferdinand hatte das Projekt nicht übernehmen wollen.
Ferdinand wird das Projekt nicht übernehmen wollen.
Ferdinand wird das Projekt nicht übernehmen gewollt haben.

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  • Personal preferences notwithstanding, I suggest you no longer use daß when talking to learners and non-native speakers of German. "Daß" has been incorrect for about 20 years now – no need to confuse the young 'uns.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 16:48

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