grammar - Present Perfect versus Imperfect with Modal verbs

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© Heidi Behrens
Was hast du in deinem
Arbeitspraktikum gemacht?
• You probably know now how to say what you
did do during your work experience
• Now you want to say what you had to, what you
could, what you wanted and what you were
allowed to do or not as the case may be!
• In order to do that you need to use ‘MODAL
VERBS’
This is what ‘MODAL VERBS’
look like if you use them in the
IMPERFECT
(FORM OF THE PAST TENSE)
dürf
ich
du
Sie
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie
en
(to be allowed to)
durfte
durftest
durften
durfte
durften
durftet
durften
(I was allowed
to)
müss
ich
du
Sie
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie
en
(to have to)
muss te
muss test
muss ten
muss te
muss ten
muss tet
muss ten
(I had to)
könn
ich
du
Sie
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie
en
(to be able to)
konn te
konn test
konn ten
konn te
konn ten
konn tet
konn ten
(I was able to/
I could)
woll
ich
du
Sie
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie
en
(to want to)
woll te
woll test
woll ten
woll te
woll ten
woll tet
woll ten
(I wanted to)
soll
ich
du
Sie
er/sie/es
wir
ihr
sie
en
(to be supposed to)
soll te
soll test
soll ten
soll te
soll ten
soll tet
soll ten
(I was supposed
to)
Let’s have a look at the following:
• THE PERFECT TENSE
(one way of talking about the past)
• THE IMPERFECT TENSE using MODAL
VERBS (another way of talking about the past)
The Perfect Tense
Ich
habe
E-Mails
ge schick t
(I sent E-mails)
TRANSFORMATION – Perfect Tense  Imperfect Tense
Ich
E-Mails
schick
The Imperfect Tense
Ich
musste
E-Mails
(I had to send E-mails)
schick
en
Have you noticed…..?
• ‘Ich habe’ becomes ‘Ich musste’
• Take off the ‘ge’ and the end bit of
the participle  here: ‘t’ to leave just
the stem
• Add an ‘en’ to the stem of the verb,
e.g. schicken (Infinitive!!!!) and BINGO,
you have done it!
The Perfect Tense
Ich
habe
Regale
auf
ge
füll
t
(I stacked shelves)
TRANSFORMATION – Perfect Tense  Imperfect Tense
Ich
Regale
auf
füll
The Imperfect Tense
Ich
musste
Regale
(I had to stack shelves)
auf
füll
en
Have you noticed…..?
• The ‘ge’ was sandwiched between the
prefix ‘auf’ and the stem of the verb
‘füll’. This is because it is a separable
verb! Another one is ‘abgelegt’
• Add an ‘en’ to the stem of the verb,
e.g. auffüllen (Infinitive!!!!) and
BINGO, you have done it again!
The Perfect Tense
Ich
habe
Papiere
fotokopier t
(I photocopied papers)
TRANSFORMATION – Perfect Tense  Imperfect Tense
Ich
Papiere
fotokopier
The Imperfect Tense
Ich
musste
Papiere
(I had to photocopy papers)
fotokopier
en
Have you noticed…..?
• Certain regular verbs have not ‘ge’
added to form the past participle. The
most common ones are those that begin
with ‘be’ (beantworten), ‘er’ (erzählento tell), ‘ver’ (vergessen – to forget)
and those that end in ‘__ieren’
(fotokopieren).
• Too difficult to pronounce otherwise!!!!
The Perfect Tense
Ich
habe
Artikel
ge
schrieb
en
(I wrote articles)
TRANSFORMATION – Perfect Tense  Imperfect Tense
Ich
Artikel
schreib
The Imperfect Tense
Ich
musste
Artikel
(I had to write articles)
schreib
en
Have you noticed…..?
• There was a stem change in the
Present Perfect Tense for
ieben’
‘geschr
• Also, as this is an irregular verb, the
ending is not ‘t’ but ‘en’
• The Infinitive is ‘schr
eiben’!
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