In der Vergangenheit

Making the verb work
How to form a past participle
Forming the sentences
Talking about other people
With "ich bin"
Independence

Making the verb work

In order to say what you did five minutes ago, last week, yesterday, or any other time in the past, you need two bits. The correct part of the help or "auxiliary" verb  - ich habe or ich bin - and the past participle. Most verbs take "ich habe". Those which do not are listed below later.

How to form a past participle

When you look a verb up in the dictionary, you find it in its "en" part, called the infinitive.

Übung 1

Look up the following words. Once you have found the infinitive, it is easy to form a past participle. You put "ge" in front, take off the "en" and add "t." Therefore, "wohnen" becomes "gewohnt". Now make the verbs you looked up earlier into past participles."
1. live
2. do
3. dance
4. laugh
5. play
6. build

Once you have found the infinitive, it is easy to form a past participle. You put "ge" in front, take  off the "en" and add "t." Therefore, "wohnen" becomes "gewohnt". Now make the verbs you looked up earlier into past participles.

NOW CHECK YOUR WORK AGAINST THE ANSWER SHEET

Unfortunately, there are lots of exceptions.

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1. VERBS WHICH END IN "IEREN".

"Interessieren" becomes "interessiert" - no "ge".

Übung 2

Look up and work out the past participle for the following:
1. shave
2. telephone
3. repair
4. discipline
5. 'get' / understand
6. respect
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2. VERBS WITH EXTRA BITS AT THE FRONT

If the verb starts with "an aus auf bei mit zurück um", the "ge" goes between that and the main part of the verb. E.g. abspülen - to wash up out, becomes abgespült.

Übung 3

Work out the past participles for the following.
1. beisteuern
2. auslachen
3. ausmachen
4. zuhören
5. umkippen
6. mittanzen

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3. VERBS WHICH ARE JUST PLAIN AWKWARD

These are really called "strong" verbs in German. Strong-minded verbs which have a will of their own and do their own thing. They are amongst the most common ones and are very similar to English. A few examples are listed below.

schwimmen – geschwommen 

trinken - getrunken

waschen – gewaschen

Übung 4

Most bi-lingual dictionaries and language text books contain a list of strong verbs. Use these to find the past participles of the following strong verbs:
1. bringen
2. essen
3. schlafen
4. denken
5. singen
6. lesen

Obviously, you must check whether your verb is strong or not before you attempt to work out the  past participle. If you use the past tense regularly you will soon learn most of these. A good start could be to list the 20 you think you would find the most useful, learn them off by heart and use them as much as possible. Make your list now.

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Forming the sentences

Start with the part of "haben", add any other information, then finish with your past participle. Study the example below. Notice that the past participle always goes right to the very end of the sentence. 

Ich habe gestern Abend meine Hausaufgaben gemacht.

Übung 5

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Talking about other people

Here are the other parts of "haben".

        ich habe                 I

        du hast                   you (one familiar)

        er/sie/es/man hat    he/she/it/one

        wir haben               we

        ihr habt                  you (several familiar)

        Sie haben               you (polite)

        sie haben                they

Übung 6

With "ich bin"

It is probably easiest to learn these off by heart.

ich bin

 I

angekommen

 arrived

 gefahren

travelled

du bist

 you (one familiar)

gegangen

 went

gekommen

came

er/sie/es/man ist

he/she/it/one

aufgestanden

got up

geworden

became

wir sind

we

gewesen

been

gereist

travelled

ihr seid

 you(several familiar)

geboren

born

geschwommen

swam

Sie sind

 you(polite)

gestorben

died

gelaufen

ran

sie sind

 they

geblieben

stayed

 

 

Can you work out a way of remembering them? There are a few more, but these are the main ones. Now make up 10 sentences in German and English using these.

NOW SHOW THE TEACHER

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Independence

Übung 7
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A matter of style

If you want to start your sentence with something other than the person who is doing the action, that is fine. It can help to emphasize some important information and make your work more interesting. But your first idea must be followed immediately by the working part of the verb. Study the example below:

Letzte Woche bin ich mit dem Zug nach Berlin gefahren.

Now turn 10 of your corrected sentences around in this way.

 

NOW SHOW THE TEACHER

 

Really showing off

Übung 8
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NC level

If you have been mainly successful in these exercises, then you are working at level 4 and working towards level 5. Once you can work out the past tense quickly and use it fluently and accurately you will be working at level 5. When you start to master other similar structures well, use your dictionary accurately and productively and make a positive effort to use and learn new structures which you meet, you will soon work your way up through levels 6, 7 & 8. You could try greeting your teacher every lesson with something about what you did in the past.

In every conversation you now practise and in every piece of written work you now do, try to bring in an example of the past tense. It is more natural to have a mixture of tenses in everyday conversations and pieces of writing. You may notice this in English.