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Haben and Sein with the past participle

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Haben and Sein with the past participle

Postby bluesteel » July 10th, 2009 2:36 pm

Hello everyone, I'm new here. I'm a beginner with a question on when to use sein or haben for the past partciple. In my virtual notebook I'm collecting all sorts of grammar rules from various grammar manuals in order to provide myself with a quick and easy way to store and organize the multitude of rules in German grammar. Here's what I've collected so far, and I've tried to order them in such a way where it would be easy to figure out whether to use haben or sein. Should I just stick to the fact that sein takes the intransitive and haben taking the transitive?

1. Is the verb expressing something that has happened to people outside of their control rather than something that people have done? If the verb is outside of their control, use sein. Think Heidegger's Dasein who is being thrown into the world.

n.b. I don't know anything about the philosophy of Heidegger. I just think it's sort of odd/neat that German grammar would actually care about whether or not the verb is is being done by the individual's control or by external forces.

2. Verbs with no motion. Go on no further and use haben

3. If the verb has motion, then check for direct object(accusative object). If there is a direct object, then use haben. If there is no direct object, use sein. Prepositional objects don't count.

4. Remember that the verbs werden(to become), sein, geschehen and blieben will always use sein.

These are the rules that I've gleaned from the grammar manuals. Now, I'm confused with rules 1 and 2. Should rule 1 always come first? Consider the verb geboren. If rule 2 came first, then one could mistakenly use haben because geboren doesn't involve motion. Does this mean that one should always ask this question first: who is controlling the verb, outside external forces or the person/it?

Where should I include the "all-encompassing rule" about intransitive verbs taking sein, and transitive verbs taking haben?

Should I include the rule about haben being allowed to take intransitive verbs when the activity is expressed with the focus being on the activity, not to where the activity is taking you?

Ich bin heute geschwommen.
Ich habe heute geschwommen. (I don't care where you were swimming to. I just care that you had a swim today.

But this breaks the rule where not having a direct object means taking sein as the auxiliary.

How would you organize the rules?

Is there a specific lesson on germanpod101 that covers this topic in detail?

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Postby bluesteel » July 23rd, 2009 1:20 am

so is this forum dead?

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Postby Salivia_Baker » July 24th, 2009 8:47 pm

it seems so.
I would love to help you but I've never understand grammar rules myself.

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Postby Sprachprofi » August 11th, 2009 11:54 pm

Sorry, I believe you're not getting an answer because there is no rule that works for 100% of the cases. Just like in French, in the end you just have to accept that some verbs are irregular and will take sein or haben independent of what the rules say.

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