Perfekt with sein

You must have encountered by now some sentences in Perfekt that do not use the auxiliary verb "haben". Consider the following examples:

Mein Vater ist am Montag nach Hamburg gefahren.

Wir sind letztes Jahr nach Europa gereist.

Albert Einstein ist 1933 ins Exil gegangen.

How do I know which verbs take "sein" when forming the Perfekt? Well, for one, you can consult your trusty dictionary. All good dictionaries will indicate that. Take a look into your dictionary for the verbs above (fahren, reisen and gehen). Does it say if they take "sein"? Which notation is used?

Which verbs take "sein"? Some helpful tips

However there are also some rules that can help you. Again, consider the verbs fahren, reisen and gehen. What do they share in common with the other verbs listed below? Think of their meanings. Then click to see the rule.

fahren, reisen, gehen, kommen, laufen, fliegen, sprinten, schwimmen

Rule No. 1

There is another type of verbs that take "sein". Look at the following verbs. Some of them might be new to you. Click on the glossary if you need help. Again think of the meanings. Then click to see the rule.

sterben, schmelzen, verschwinden, einschlafen, verdampfen, verhungern


Rule No. 2

There are as usual some exceptions to the rule. The most important ones are:

sein   -->   ist gewesen 
bleiben   -->   ist geblieben
werden   -->   ist geworden
passieren   -->   ist passiert


You should remember these few verbs by heart as they are encountered very frequently.

You might want to try the exercise on Perfekt with sein/haben now.

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© Dr. Chan Wai Meng, 2000