Das Perfekt

The Perfekt (present perfect) is the most used past tense in German. The idea behind the perfect is that we use it to talk about actions that were completed in the recent past. However, nowadays, in spoken language the Perfekt is used in almost all situations in which someone is talking about the past.

So in spoken language you can practically use it whenever you are talking about the past. In written language, on the other hand, it is less common to use it. Here we mainly use the Präteritum (simple past).


The Perfekt is formed by using the conjugated present tense of the verbs ‘sein‘ (to be) or ‘haben‘ (to have) and the past participle (Partizip 2) of the corresponding verb.

Personalpronomen | Personal pronounsPerfektform
ichbin / habe + Partizip 2
dubist / hast + Partizip 2
er, sie, esist / hat + Partizip 2
wirsind / haben + Partizip 2
ihrseid / habt + Partizip 2
siesind / haben + Partizip 2

Now, you might be asking yourself:
What the hell is a Partizip 2 ?”
And that is really good question. The Partizip 2 is the German equivalent of the past participle in English

(e.g. forms like made, done, backed, …).

In German, the Partizip 2 (past participle) is formed by taking the root of a verb and adding the prefix ge- and the suffix -t.

Beispiele | ExamplesPartizip 2

So if we keep that in mind, we can now form the perfect forms for all regular verbs.

The Perfekt forms of the verb machen (to make / to do), for example, use the Hilfsverb (auxiliary verb) haben and the Partizip 2 is ‘gemacht‘. So the corresponding forms are:

machen (Perfekt)
ich habe gemacht
du hast gemacht
er, sie, es hat gemacht
wir haben gemacht
ihr habt gemacht
sie haben gemacht

And this is how we form the Perfekt of a verb. Luckily, the only forms that can be irregular here are the Partizip 2 forms. We will make an article about that soon, to make things easier for you.

Other tenses in German:

Overview | Präsens | Präteritum| Plusquamperfekt | Futur 1 | Futur 2

Stay tuned for more articles about this and other grammar topics for learning German!

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