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Comparing verb tenses in French, English and German


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#1 Joan in GE

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 02:50 PM

I'm trying to understand and easily show how the tenses compare in these three languages. I know they are not a perfect fit as some languages emphasize some aspects of the past (eg French) differently than we do in English and German has Konjuntiv I and II, etc.

 

When I was studying French ages ago, we could make nice little time line and slot the verbs into different positions on the line....In the middle was the present and on the right the future tenses and the left the past tenses. That must have just been for the indicative and then perhaps another line underneath with past present subjunctive. There I'm already over my head as I've never really mastered subjunctive.

 

Has anyone done this and could therefore share a picture ?

 

I've been looking for a website that puts this in a good visual form but so far none are even close....

 

Any links or ideas are greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 


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#2 loesje22000

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 04:53 AM

I will see what I can do for you.
We just covered this about a month or 2 ago, but I just draw these things myself on the white board...
We made a comparasation table of the words (adding Latin and Dutch too) but not al the same tense are used the same way (or will be translated the same way)

ETA: rereading your post I'm not sure you are talking about what I think you are talking about.

I will post during next week some things if somebody else did not already help you better then me.
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#3 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 06:30 AM

That would be a really interesting thing to see!  I can only do the French indicatives off the top of my head!  

 

 



#4 Joan in GE

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 07:26 AM

Here is a VERY incomplete example of just French...from my study ages ago. It doesn't have subjonctive. And I'm not sure where you would put conditional graphically... ETA, it says too big, so I'll have to reduce it later today as I'm going out....

 

I would like to have examples of the tenses underneath as well.

 

Then below that, or above, the English and German - past, present, future tenses, Konjunctiv.

 

Thanks for any help or additions to this!


Edited by Joan in GE, 06 May 2017 - 07:27 AM.


#5 Renai

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 09:21 AM

Can you upload to google drive and share the link? It may be less work for you.
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#6 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 11:53 AM

Well I made a table and tried to paste it in. It did copy in but when I 'posted' it lost all the lines, etc.

 

I don't use Google drive much after it got more complicated....will think about how to do this...

 

And I tried making it into a Word doc, but it says we^re not permitted to upload such files...Trying again with excel

 

which didn't work either...


Edited by Joan in GE, 07 May 2017 - 12:30 PM.


#7 Matryoshka

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 12:23 PM

I speak Spanish/German/English - I'm under the impression that French tenses are quite similar to Spanish?

 

If I got a visual of what you're thinking of, I'd be happy to think through it with you - are you talking about making a table with rows and columns, or something more free-flowing?  I love to make tables - free-flowing stuff gets away from me. ;)

 

One thing that is difficult with tenses among languages is that a tense you use in one language is not necessarily the right one to use in the same situation in the other.  English uses the present progressive all.the.time. where other languages would use the simple present.  And German doesn't even have progressive tenses.  And you already know about the subjunctive, which English barely uses.  German often uses the past perfect where other languages use the simple past.

 

English is also really slippery in that we make all theses compound verb structures with modals and such (could, would, might), and it's super hard to even find information about what those constructions are even called, although they'd most often end up conditional in other languages.  Though as someone pointed out in another thread, sometimes we use would+verb to indicate a past event that is in the future of another past event.  A future past?


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#8 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 12:34 PM

I speak Spanish/German/English - I'm under the impression that French tenses are quite similar to Spanish?

 

If I got a visual of what you're thinking of, I'd be happy to think through it with you - are you talking about making a table with rows and columns, or something more free-flowing?  I love to make tables - free-flowing stuff gets away from me. ;)

 

One thing that is difficult with tenses among languages is that a tense you use in one language is not necessarily the right one to use in the same situation in the other.  English uses the present progressive all.the.time. where other languages would use the simple present.  And German doesn't even have progressive tenses.  And you already know about the subjunctive, which English barely uses.  German often uses the past perfect where other languages use the simple past.

 

English is also really slippery in that we make all theses compound verb structures with modals and such (could, would, might), and it's super hard to even find information about what those constructions are even called, although they'd most often end up conditional in other languages.  Though as someone pointed out in another thread, sometimes we use would+verb to indicate a past event that is in the future of another past event.  A future past?

 

Yes ! table/time line type of thing...

 

I can't tell you about Spanish compared to French...do they have passé composé that shows when something happens in the middle of an imparfait situation ?

 

I'm trying to compare the Simple Past in English, to the French tenses...but it seems that it can be used for both passé composé and imparfait situations...adding -ed at the end is quite simple...though I'm not sure if that's all....

 

Do you know how to post tables ? is a photo the best way as it won't upload Word or Excel....?


Edited by Joan in GE, 07 May 2017 - 12:35 PM.


#9 Matryoshka

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 01:07 PM

Yes ! table/time line type of thing...

 

I can't tell you about Spanish compared to French...do they have passé composé that shows when something happens in the middle of an imparfait situation ?

 

I'm trying to compare the Simple Past in English, to the French tenses...but it seems that it can be used for both passé composé and imparfait situations...adding -ed at the end is quite simple...though I'm not sure if that's all....

 

Do you know how to post tables ? is a photo the best way as it won't upload Word or Excel....?

 

Gah, I don't know the names of French verb tenses, so I hauled out my 501 French Verbs (yes, I have one lying around.  Such a language nerd... ;) )

 

Looks like passé composé is the present perfect (in English present of to have + past participle)?  Does French have what is pretty much two simple pasts like Spanish (imperfect and preterite)?  I see on the list imparfait de l' indicatif and passé simple - would those correspond?  In Spanish you use the imperfect for past situations that are habitual or go on over time, and preterite is used when something happens just once or has a defined begin/end point.

 

I also have 501 Verbs in German and Spanish so I can compare.  But not in English.  I'd love to have one sometimes just so I could compare.  NO English grammar books I've found have ever laid out all the tenses on one nice table like these 501 Verbs books do.

 

ETA: Does French use progressive tenses?  (to be + present participle) I don't see them listed, but I see my Spanish version of this book doesn't either, and Spanish uses the progressive forms all the time.  


Edited by Matryoshka, 07 May 2017 - 01:13 PM.

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#10 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 01:50 PM

Gah, I don't know the names of French verb tenses, so I hauled out my 501 French Verbs (yes, I have one lying around.  Such a language nerd... ;) )

 

Looks like passé composé is the present perfect (in English present of to have + past participle)?  Does French have what is pretty much two simple pasts like Spanish (imperfect and preterite)?  I see on the list imparfait de l' indicatif and passé simple - would those correspond?  In Spanish you use the imperfect for past situations that are habitual or go on over time, and preterite is used when something happens just once or has a defined begin/end point.

 

I also have 501 Verbs in German and Spanish so I can compare.  But not in English.  I'd love to have one sometimes just so I could compare.  NO English grammar books I've found have ever laid out all the tenses on one nice table like these 501 Verbs books do.

 

ETA: Does French use progressive tenses?  (to be + present participle) I don't see them listed, but I see my Spanish version of this book doesn't either, and Spanish uses the progressive forms all the time.  

I really like the 501 Verbs books too and have French and German :-)

 

The only problem is that if you don't know how to use the tenses, they don't help that.

 

The passé simple in French is for literature. And passé composé uses avoir (to have) and etre (to be).

 

I'm terrible at tenses - that's why I want this table...when you say progressive tenses - I don't know.

 

Thanks for your help!



#11 maize

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 01:51 PM

Simple past is mostly not used in spoken French, so passé composé takes its place.
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#12 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 01:54 PM

Simple past is mostly not used in spoken French, so passé composé takes its place.

 

This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for and want to put in one big table....Thank you!


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#13 loesje22000

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 01:57 PM

We got this far:
english - french - german
Simple present - present -Präsens
Simple past - passé simple / imparfait - Perfekt
Past Perfect - plus que parfait / passé interieur - Plusquamperfekt
Simple Future - futur simple - Futur
Future Perfect - Futur Anterieur - Zweites Futur

Present participle - participe present - Partizip I

I received your PM in good order Joan and will try to upload the table for you tomorrow
So far I did found / made your 'line' photo only for French & English.
Not for German.

I will let dd take a look at it this week, if she sees possibilities to do this for other languages.
The biggest problem I see now is that my grammar reference language is Dutch, and dd's grammar reference language is Latin.
That influences the way ones look at other languages we noticed.
I suppose your grammar reference language is English which might make our view unnecessary complicated.
Several English & French verb tense we just don't have in Dutch.

Dd links German Grammar to her Knowledge of Latin, and Combines French & English grammar to gether.

#14 loesje22000

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:00 PM

This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for and want to put in one big table....Thank you!


We have for each language little booklets about 60 pages with only explanations about how to use and conjugate verbs in that language.
Is n't that what you are looking for?
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#15 maize

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:02 PM

Not a chart, but here is a comparison of English and French verb tenses:
http://www.academypu...vol04/11/15.pdf
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#16 maize

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:11 PM

This paper is a bit linguistically dense but starting on p. 47 is a comparison of German and English tenses and on p. 58 is a chart.
https://www.tu-chemn...h_MAGarete2.pdf

Edited by maize, 07 May 2017 - 02:11 PM.

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#17 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:14 PM

We have for each language little booklets about 60 pages with only explanations about how to use and conjugate verbs in that language.
Is n't that what you are looking for?

 

It would probably help but I start to get lost when I read the texts about tenses...so I thought the visual would be helpful...

 

You ask about my reference language - for some tenses it's French....though I never mastered conditional and subjunctive, nor plus-que-parfait and others...But since I studied the other tenses more recently than studying English...I can at least access them in my memory...

 

Not a chart, but here is a comparison of English and French verb tenses:
http://www.academypu...vol04/11/15.pdf

 

 

That is interesting but I start to get lost when I can't get the visual picture there too. It will be a useful reference though to try to sort this out.

 

I get so easily hung up on such words as 'Perfect' 'Preterit' 'Progressive' and the like....I think my brain functions intuitively and has trouble grasping such concepts...


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#18 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:18 PM

This paper is a bit linguistically dense but starting on p. 47 is a comparison of German and English tenses and on p. 58 is a chart.
https://www.tu-chemn...h_MAGarete2.pdf

 

Thanks for finding that chart!!

 

Ok, I see I don't have to worry about progressive for German...(though I don't even know what it means in English :-( ) but I like to be systematic when studying so now at least it's on the agenda.


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#19 maize

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:19 PM

Yeah, analyzing the structure of a language is rather different from speaking/using the language. Most native speakers wouldn't know how to analyze verb tenses.

What is your end goal?

Edited by maize, 07 May 2017 - 02:20 PM.

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#20 loesje22000

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:29 PM

This is the table Joan tried to upload:

 

https://drive.google...iew?usp=sharing

 

 


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#21 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 02:33 PM

Yeah, analyzing the structure of a language is rather different from speaking/using the language. Most native speakers wouldn't know how to analyze verb tenses.

What is your end goal?

I have two goals...

 

I'm finally getting time to study German and find it helpful for studying to be able to compare the three.

 

 

I also am tutoring English for a friend's son and all of the sudden I find I know nothing of English tenses. Unhappily, tutoring cannot be a job for me here because schools use British English which is actually more different from American English than people imagine. So if something is right for me but wrong in the UK, I don't want them to lose points. (My dd lost points in the past when tested with local tests). My friend has US relatives so is more interested....Anyway, for him and myself, French is a reference language...

 

This is the table Joan tried to upload:

 

https://drive.google...iew?usp=sharing

 

 

Thank you so much !!!


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#22 loesje22000

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 03:01 PM

g.png

 

I found one for French - Dutch (just in case anyone will read this thread in the future)


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#23 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 03:05 PM

This paper is a bit linguistically dense but starting on p. 47 is a comparison of German and English tenses and on p. 58 is a chart.
https://www.tu-chemn...h_MAGarete2.pdf

 

So now I've copied my French chart (the one that loesje posted and am trying to plug the items from the German chart in, but I don't know what 'neutral' means...Could you please look at the French google drive link and see if the 'present perfect' is equal to 'le passé du présent'?



#24 Joan in GE

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 03:12 PM

Loesje, your chart makes me curious....in French, passé composé comes into a time in the 'imparfait'....eg je lavais la vaisselle et j'ai entendu un bruit. But on your chart, it looks like it comes in between the imparfait and the present. Or is it just how it is represented ?

 

I put the little arrow on the French chart to show that the P.C. was coming at one point of time while the imparfait was going on ....


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#25 loesje22000

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 03:25 PM

Loesje, your chart makes me curious....in French, passé composé comes into a time in the 'imparfait'....eg je lavais la vaisselle et j'ai entendu un bruit. But on your chart, it looks like it comes in between the imparfait and the present. Or is it just how it is represented ?

 

I put the little arrow on the French chart to show that the P.C. was coming at one point of time while the imparfait was going on ....

 

The imparfait and passe simple are both 'simple past' in Dutch. 

So that might be troublemaking with such a schedule.

 

ETA 

passé composé

plus que parfait

passe anterieur

 

are all 'perfect' tenses as in 'started in the past & finished in the past'

 

the simple past could be almost anything else :)


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#26 Matryoshka

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 04:45 PM

I have two goals...

 

I'm finally getting time to study German and find it helpful for studying to be able to compare the three.

 

 

I also am tutoring English for a friend's son and all of the sudden I find I know nothing of English tenses. Unhappily, tutoring cannot be a job for me here because schools use British English which is actually more different from American English than people imagine. So if something is right for me but wrong in the UK, I don't want them to lose points. (My dd lost points in the past when tested with local tests). My friend has US relatives so is more interested....Anyway, for him and myself, French is a reference language...

 

Joan, your native language is English, though, yes?  English is Germanic.  The tenses in English have a lot more in common, both in how they're formed and how they're used, with German than the Latin languages.

 

I do find Spanish helpful as a reference, but those Latin languages have forms (like the two kinds of past) that just aren't at all relevant.  Also similar in English/German are that the future and conditional tenses are compound tenses formed with a helping verb (will/would and werden) + the infinitive.

 

English and German also share phrasal verbs.  In German these show up as prefixes on the infinitive of the verb, which can be either separable or inseparable - if they are separable they move around the sentence away from the verb stem.  Native English speakers don't even tend to be taught about he existence of phrasal verbs, but they are talked about extensively in ESL programs, as we use them all.the.time.   I have entire book for ESL learners that is nothing but phrasal verbs.  

 

In English the adverbial parts of the phrasal verb come after the stem verb in the infinitive. To stand is not the same verb as to stand up or to stand down or to stand aside.  To look is a different verb than to look for or to look up (like in a dictionary).


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#27 Joan in GE

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 05:28 AM

Joan, your native language is English, though, yes?  English is Germanic.  The tenses in English have a lot more in common, both in how they're formed and how they're used, with German than the Latin languages.

 

I do find Spanish helpful as a reference, but those Latin languages have forms (like the two kinds of past) that just aren't at all relevant.  Also similar in English/German are that the future and conditional tenses are compound tenses formed with a helping verb (will/would and werden) + the infinitive.

 

English and German also share phrasal verbs.  In German these show up as prefixes on the infinitive of the verb, which can be either separable or inseparable - if they are separable they move around the sentence away from the verb stem.  Native English speakers don't even tend to be taught about he existence of phrasal verbs, but they are talked about extensively in ESL programs, as we use them all.the.time.   I have entire book for ESL learners that is nothing but phrasal verbs.  

 

In English the adverbial parts of the phrasal verb come after the stem verb in the infinitive. To stand is not the same verb as to stand up or to stand down or to stand aside.  To look is a different verb than to look for or to look up (like in a dictionary).

 

Yes, my mother and best tongue is English.

 

The explanation of phrasal verbs is extremely helpful.....I'd seen the separable German verbs and thought there was nothing similar in English...very helpful...

 

Thank you!


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#28 Joan in GE

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 05:35 AM

Simple past is mostly not used in spoken French, so passé composé takes its place.

 

 

My brain is like a sieve when it comes to grammar - you would never know I got my kids through high school with the help of a TE for English. Nothing stuck here.

 

Anyway, now I see that Simple past is strickly speaking equivalent to Passé simple in French. Which is why you said 'not used in spoken French'. I had not made that connection even though it was in my table but in reading more online I finally understand.

 

This is not so clean as I was hoping for...and it's hard to do in a Word document with these mixtures...Best with pen and ink...


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#29 Joan in GE

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 07:21 AM

So is Present perfect in English considered a Past tense or a present tense ? I like my tables to be neat and easy to understand though I don't know if this is possible.

 

I ask because I read that Passé composé in French can equal the Present perfect in English OR the Simple past....So I want to know if Present perfect should be in the Past column or in the Present column....

 

ETA And I'm reading about English Imperfect - is that the same as Past continuous ? and Past progressive ?

 

Any help greatly appreciated!

Joan

 


Edited by Joan in GE, 08 May 2017 - 07:34 AM.


#30 loesje22000

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 08:25 AM

Present Perfect is a past tense in my world :)

ETA:
The present refers to the helping verb not the main verb which is in perfect.
Classifying tense is based on the main verb.
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#31 Matryoshka

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 09:45 AM

So is Present perfect in English considered a Past tense or a present tense ? I like my tables to be neat and easy to understand though I don't know if this is possible.

 

I ask because I read that Passé composé in French can equal the Present perfect in English OR the Simple past....So I want to know if Present perfect should be in the Past column or in the Present column....

 

In all languages I speak, the present perfect is used to talk about the recent past.  It's called "present" because the helping verb is conjugated in the present tense.  The main verb is not conjugated in perfect tenses, you use the past participle.

 

In modern English you always use the verb 'to have' to make the perfect tenses; in Spanish you always use the verb 'haber'.  I just figured out a way that French might help you here with German - in German (and it appears also in French) the perfect tenses can be formed with two helping verbs - haben/avoir (to have) for transitive verbs and sein/être (to be) for intransitive verbs.  

 

To go (intransitive): I have gone; ich bin gegangen; je suis allée

 

To cook (transitive): I have cooked, ich habe gekocht, j'ai cuit

 

So that should help you; figuring out that transitive/intransitive thing is a pain for most English speakers.  We used to also differentiate back in the time of Shakespeare; that's why we say "He is risen" on Easter; it comes from the King James, from Shakespeare's time - that would be "He has risen" in modern Engllsh - and it has been changed to that in contemporary translations.  (To rise is an intransitive verb).

 

Along with 'to be' for intransitive perfect tenses, we also dropped 'thou' from the same time period.  Thou was our informal 2nd person.  If you have read a lot of Shakespeare and/or King James, you might be familiar with how 'thou' is conjugated, which is almost the same as 'du' (informal 2nd person in German).

 

Thou hast

du hast

 

Thou willst

du willst

 

 

 

ETA And I'm reading about English Imperfect - is that the same as Past continuous ? and Past progressive ?

 

No, not at all.  Imperfect is just a simple past tense (as in, not compound).  We only have one simple past in English.  Called the past tense, also imperfect.  Same exact thing.  The progressive tenses are compound - to be + present participle.

 

Past (aka imperfect): I ran

Past progressive: I was running

 

There are no progressive tenses in German.  They would use the simple present tenses wherever we'd use progressive.

 

I am reading the paper.

Ich lese die Zeitung.

 

In the past, German uses the present perfect a lot of times where we'd use the simple past.

 

I ran home yesterday.

Gestern bin ich nach Hause gerannt.


Edited by Matryoshka, 08 May 2017 - 09:53 AM.

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#32 Joan in GE

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 12:55 PM

In all languages I speak, the present perfect is used to talk about the recent past.  It's called "present" because the helping verb is conjugated in the present tense.  The main verb is not conjugated in perfect tenses, you use the past participle.

 

In modern English you always use the verb 'to have' to make the perfect tenses; in Spanish you always use the verb 'haber'.  I just figured out a way that French might help you here with German - in German (and it appears also in French) the perfect tenses can be formed with two helping verbs - haben/avoir (to have) for transitive verbs and sein/être (to be) for intransitive verbs.  

 

To go (intransitive): I have gone; ich bin gegangen; je suis allée

 

To cook (transitive): I have cooked, ich habe gekocht, j'ai cuit

 

So that should help you; figuring out that transitive/intransitive thing is a pain for most English speakers.  We used to also differentiate back in the time of Shakespeare; that's why we say "He is risen" on Easter; it comes from the King James, from Shakespeare's time - that would be "He has risen" in modern Engllsh - and it has been changed to that in contemporary translations.  (To rise is an intransitive verb).

 

Along with 'to be' for intransitive perfect tenses, we also dropped 'thou' from the same time period.  Thou was our informal 2nd person.  If you have read a lot of Shakespeare and/or King James, you might be familiar with how 'thou' is conjugated, which is almost the same as 'du' (informal 2nd person in German).

 

Thou hast

du hast

 

Thou willst

du willst

 

I never thought about the verb form with 'Thou'....thanks for these extra aspects that are helping tie these languages together :-)

 

I'll have to study the transitive/intransitive thing more....

 

Thank you Matryoshka!

 


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#33 Joan in GE

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 01:08 PM

In all languages I speak, the present perfect is used to talk about the recent past.  It's called "present" because the helping verb is conjugated in the present tense.  The main verb is not conjugated in perfect tenses, you use the past participle.

 

 

I had meant to talk about the 'recent past' too.

 

Ok, in French, there is the very recent past with (conjugated) venir de + infinitive (eg je viens de manger une pomme).....It is translated in English...(I just ate an apple).

 

In the French verb table that I got ages ago, it was put into the present even though it is officially past.

 

Since it has the simple past verb form - you would count it as a regular past tense ? I wanted to put it in my table under the French passé immédiat (also called Passé du présent)....and then go down and put it in the same place for English :-)...You can see on the table that loesje linked for me...



#34 Matryoshka

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 02:10 PM

I had meant to talk about the 'recent past' too.

 

Ok, in French, there is the very recent past with (conjugated) venir de + infinitive (eg je viens de manger une pomme).....It is translated in English...(I just ate an apple).

 

In the French verb table that I got ages ago, it was put into the present even though it is officially past.

 

Since it has the simple past verb form - you would count it as a regular past tense ? I wanted to put it in my table under the French passé immédiat (also called Passé du présent)....and then go down and put it in the same place for English :-)...You can see on the table that loesje linked for me...

 

The recent past in English can be either simple past or present perfect - but if you want to include that sense of it just having happened... in English it's the word 'just' that makes it, which of course isn't part of the verb at all.  Here, see how these sound to you.

 

I have just eaten an apple.

I just ate an apple.

I have eaten an apple.

I ate an apple.

 

There isn't always one 'right' way to say something; the speaker has some discretion.  That whole venir de + infinitive construction does not exist in English or German.  Spanish does have a similar construction with the verb acabar de + infinitive.  (acabar = to finish)

 

English and Spanish also share another version of the future with the verb to go + to + infintitive.  In English of course we always use 'to go' in the progressive tense for this construction; in Spanish it's always in the simple present.

 

I am going to travel

Voy a viajar

 

You can see it would sound ridiculous in English with the simple present ( I go to travel ) and equally ridiculous in Spanish with the progressive ( Estoy yendo a viajar ), but those are pretty much analogous in usage other than that.  I have no idea if this form exists in French, but it does not exist at all in German; there's just the regular future (werden + infinitive).


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#35 Joan in GE

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 03:47 AM

Loesje has let me work on the document so here is a link to the 'past' section of the table so far....It is not finished and I'm open to all comments and suggestions...If there is something that was already said and it is not yet in the table, please forgive me as this is hard work going into a brain that has never liked grammar...I'll share the present and future sections in the future when they are in a more advanced state....

 

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing