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Help me please to explain in simple terms the difference between

(10 Posts)
emotionsecho Tue 30-Dec-14 20:16:11

A German friend of mine has just asked me to explain why "I have written" is used and not "I have wrote" and also why we say "I wrote" and the difference between the two.

I explained as best I could, but would be grateful if anyone could give me a simple, straightforward explanation to pass on to her.

FriendlyLadybird Tue 30-Dec-14 23:31:19

Well, 'written' is the past participle and we use it with an auxiliary verb (to have) to create a perfect tense. As far as I can make out, you form the perfect tense in German in exactly the same way, so I can't see why she doesn't understand.

UNLESS German doesn't have a simple (non compound) past tense, as English does... which, come to think of it, is quite possible.

emotionsecho Wed 31-Dec-14 01:01:00

Thanks, she did seem to understand the perfect tense bit, but not the past participle. I think I tied myself up in knots a bit, but gave some examples to try and make it clearer.

I'll use your explanation to clarify what I've already said and ask the question about forming the perfect tense in German.

DadDadDad Wed 31-Dec-14 10:10:13

I suppose the confusion is that for many verbs the past participle and the simple past are identical, eg 'I have walked' and 'I walked', so it's only with some verbs like 'write' or 'run' that the difference can be observed.

RichardParkerTheTiger Wed 31-Dec-14 10:14:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Quitethewoodsman Wed 31-Dec-14 10:18:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsHathaway Wed 31-Dec-14 10:22:39

Yes, it's the same in German, but most English verbs are the same (eg explained/has explained) so she's probably surprised.

Similarly, German has three genders but Germans are surprised when English words are gendered (eg a ship's being "she").

tribpot Wed 31-Dec-14 10:24:46

It's the difference between the perfect and the preterite.

It does seem that this distinction is not as pronounced in German - at least according to Wikipedia.

emotionsecho Wed 31-Dec-14 10:35:22

Thanks everyone, I can now word it better than I did last night.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 07-Jan-15 11:18:25

I always tell my students the easiest way to get their heads round perfect tenses is to remember that "perfect" in these cases indicates that the action has been "perfected" (ie finished) before the time referenced.

Present Perfect action- an action which was concluded at any time before the present.
Past Perfect- an action which was concluded before the past (simple)

The Present Perfect is notoriously difficult for foreign learners, as most other languages have a tense that looks to be the same, but rarely is, except in its form.

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