Present Perfect in German


When to Use the Present Perfect

In German, the present perfect is perfect to talk about everything that has happened to you recently.

Ich habe gestern den berühmten Herrn Haudegen getroffen. - Yesterday I met the famous Mr Haudegen.
Du hast ihn doch neulich auch im Fernsehen gesehen , oder? - You saw him on TV the other day, didn't you?
Er ist mir gestern zum ersten Mal live begegnet. - Yesterday I met him in person for the first time.
Wir sind sogar ein paar Meter zusammen gegangen. - We even walked together for a few meters.
Ihr habt doch bestimmt schon davon gehört . - I bet you've already heard about it.
Sie haben darüber sicher schon im Radio berichtet. - They already talked about it on the radio.

The German present perfect is also used when something has happened in the past but is still connected to the present.


Mir ist aufgefallen, dass man das Perfekt auch anders verwenden kann. - I realized that you can also use the present perfect differently. (So now I can also use it differently!)

Du hast dich im Deutschen schon sehr verbessert. - Your German has really improved. (So now you're better at it!)

Er hat gelesen , dass man regelmäßig Bewegung braucht. - He read that one needs to exercise regularly. (So now he rolls his cigarettes himself instead of buying them.)

How to Use the Present Perfect

As you can see in the examples, the German present perfect always consists of two parts:

Part 1: present tense of "haben" (to have - Ich habe ihn getroffen - I met him) oder "sein" (to be - Er ist mir begegnet - I met him)

Part 2: past participle (Ich habe ihn getroffen. Er ist mir begegnet.)

These two parts are often separated from each other by different sentence parts. The rule is that Part 1 (present tense of "haben" or "sein") immediately follows the person doing the action (Ich habe...), while Part 2 stands at the end of the sentence (...gestern den berühmten Herrn Haudegen getroffen.)


Du hast dich schon sehr gut hier eingelebt. - You have settled in very well.
Wir sind letzte Woche drei mal ins Kino gegangen. - Last week we went to the movies three times.
Er hat schon wieder nicht aufgepasst. - Once again he didn't pay attention.

However, if a relative clause follows ("...dass er nicht gut hört." - "that he doesn't hear well." or "...wer er ist." - "...who he is." oder "...was los ist." - "...what is going on."), Part 1 and Part 2 stay together.


Mir ist aufgefallen, dass es gar nicht so schwer ist wie es aussieht. - I realized that it isn't as difficult as it looks.
Er hat gemerkt, was los ist. - He realized what is going on.
Wir haben geahnt, woher er das wusste. - We had a hunch how he had found out.

If the present perfect appears in a question, Part 1 stands at the beginning, and Part 2 at the end of the question.


Hast du mir die E-Mail schon geschickt ? - Did you send me the e-mail yet?
Sind sie etwa schon gestern angekommen? - Did they already arrive yesterday?
Habe ich dir nicht schon genug erzählt? - Haven't I told you enough already?

If the question contains other question words like "Wann?" (when), "Wieso?" (why) or "Wie?" (how), the question word begins the question, and the rest stays the same.


Wann hast du sie zum ersten Mal gesehen? - When did you first meet her?
Wie haben SIe das nur herausgefunden? - Just how did you find out?
Wieso habe ich das bloß nicht früher gemerkt? - Why didn't you realize this earlier?

Hopefully you have learned enough about the German present perfect to start using right away.

Learn how to differentiate between German verb types in order to conjugate all of them correctly! Read:
Strong, Weak, and Mixed Verbs in German and look up any verb in this list: German Verbs