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Imperfect tense and perfect tense

Hi. I need to know what is the difference between the imperfect verb tense and the perfect verb tense. Mostly i just need to know when it is better to use either tense. If you could provide examples i would appreciate it. Thanks =)

For learning: German
Base language: English
Category: Uncategorized

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    Hello deconner12,

    Although both English and German use the Imperfekt ( past simple tense) and the Perfekt ( present perfect tense) ,there are major differences in the ways each language uses the tenses.
    So you can't say that Imperfekt is identical with the English past simple tense ,the same goes for the German Perfekt ,it is not totally equivalent to the English present perfect.

    Imperfekt:
    In German it is the “narrative past” as being used to describe a series of connected events in the past. It is described as the more “formal” of the two basic past tenses in German and it is found primarily in books and newspapers.

    The German simple past tense may have several English equivalents. A phrase such as :
    " Er spielte Klavier."
    can be translated into English as: “he was playing piano,” “he used to play piano,” “he played piano,” or “he did play piano” depending on the context.
    So in spoken German past events are more referred to using the Perfekt ,while the written formal material uses mostly the Imperfekt.
    Most Germans view the simple past as more aloof and cold than the present perfect.
    In a normal conversation you would rather say :
    “Ich bin in London gewesen,” rather than “Ich war in London.” (“I was in London.”





    Perfekt:

    The Perfekt (exactly like the present perfect) is a compound using the auxiliary verbs ( either haben (to have) or sein (to be) with the past participle .
    SPIELEN ( to play):
    Er hat ( haben) + ge+ spielt
    GEHEN ( to go):
    Er ist ( sein) ge+ gangen
    etc...

    You will have to learn which verbs uses 'haben' and which uses 'sein'.There are lists of irregular verbs with their conjugation .The regular participle is usually formed as follows:
    "Ge + verb + T"
    gespielt , gemacht , gemalt ...etc

    This tense referring to past events is mostly used in spoken German.
    For instance, if you want to express, “I used to live in Paris” in German, you can say, “Ich habe in Paris gewohnt.” — a completed event (you no longer live in Paris).
    On the other hand, if you want to say:
    “I have lived/have been living in Paris for ten years,” you can't use the perfect tense (or any past tense) because you're talking about an event in the present (you are still living in Paris). So German uses the present tense (with schon seit) in this situation:
    “Ich wohne schon seit zehn Jahren in Paris,” literally :
    “I live since ten years in Paris.”
    (A sentence structure that Germans sometimes mistakenly use when going from German to English!)

    With daily usage and an more intense encounter with those tenses you will come to differentiate between them and use them in their right places.
    However notice againthat you will be more likely to use the 'Perfekt' in daily conversations and the 'Imperfket' in formal written text.
    I hope you got a good idea about the difference and usage of both tenses :)

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