In a previous post, I shared “3 mistakes even advanced speakers often make in English” . One of them was the confusion and difficulty around the Past Present (Dave’s rename) aka the Present Perfect (PP). It is very difficult because you don’t have such a tense in German, even though your past tense (haben gesehen) could be mistaken for the PP (have seen).
To make life a little easier, I revamped the tense name (Past Present) to make it clearer that it has to do with both the past and the present. Usually an event started in the past and is still ongoing now and I offer so-called ‘signal words’ to serve as aide – Memoires. Here is the first set of signal words:
1. How long, for (period of time), since (specific time) – when action is still ongoing.
“How long have you worked for XYZ company?”
“I have worked for XYZ company for 5 years / since 2011.”
That means, you joined 5 years ago and you still work there now. NB. The German translation: “Wie lange arbeitest Du bei der Firma XYZ?“ (the German present tense) “Ich arbeite bei der Firma XYZ seit 5 Jahren.“ Is it any wonder then that the Denglish version is: “How long (do) you work for XYZ company or are you working …?” “I am working / I work for XYZ company since 5 years.”
Here are some other examples, with this construction:
“How long have you been together/been* married?” *3rd form of ‘to be’ “We have been together for 7 years”.
“How long have you lived in Münster?”
“I’ve lived in Münster for 10 years.”
Hope it helps a little!?!? Stay tuned for the next instalment of the PP saga.
tense (Zeitform), revamped (hier: etw ausbessern), aide – memoires (Eselsbrücke), “Is it any wonder then that..”? (Ist es da noch verwunderlich, dass), stay tuned (Bleiben Sie dran), instalment (Fortsetzungsfolge)