This week’s German Learning Tip of the Week video teaches you the Perfekt tense in German with Nena’s song “In meinem Leben“. This song is a sentimental look back at the things that Nena has done in her life. It uses das Perfekt with a bunch of different verbs. While listening to this song you can learn how to use this tense. As an added bonus, this song is a great tune.
The video above covers a lot of the song, but I thought I would take an even closer look here. Let’s start with the first verse.
In meinem Leben – In my life
Bin ich oft geflogen – I have often flown
Bin ich tief gefallen – I have fallen deeply
Und manchmal auch ertrunken – and sometimes drowned, too
Ich hab gewonnen – I have won
Und ich hab verloren – and I have lost
Und ich bin gestorben – and I have died
Und wieder neu geboren – and been born again
Ich hab gegeben – I have given
Und ich hab genommen – and I have taken
Wir haben uns gefunden – We have found ourselves
Wir sind so weit gekommen – We have come so far
Ich bin mir nah – I am close to myself
Und immer wieder fremd – and a stranger again
Das hat was von allein sein – That has to do with being alone
Und das mich keiner kennt – and that no one knows me
Because she starts with a prepositional phrase the subject of the sentence, “ich”, moves to the other side of the conjugated form of “haben” or “sein”. As a result she can start each line with a form of “haben” or “sein” and end each line with a past participle. This is great for German learners, because it allows you to follow along very easily. You can clearly see that the “bin” at the beginning of the second line is connected to the “geflogen” at the end of that same line.
Verbs with das Perfekt – Verse 1
If you follow the same logic for the following lines you can start to make a list of verbs and past participles and whether they use “haben” or “sein” with das Perfekt. I took the liberty of creating that list for you so you can follow along with the song and know what each verb means and what past participle it takes. In order to help you follow along, I put them in the same order that they appear in the song.
fliegen: Ich bin geflogen.
to fly: I have flown.
fallen: Ich bin gefallen.
to fall: I have fallen.
ertrinken: Ich bin ertrunken.
to drown: I have drowned.
gewinnen: Ich habe gewonnen.
to win: I have won.
verlieren: Ich habe verloren.
to lose: I have lost.
sterben: Ich bin gestorben.
to die: I have died.
geben: Ich habe gegeben.
to give: I have given.
nehmen: Ich habe genommen.
to take: I have taken.
finden: Wir haben gefunden.
to find: We have found.
kommen: Wir sind gekommen.
to come: We have come.
Verbs with das Perfekt – After Verse 1
In the next several verses we get even more verbs. Here is a list of those as they appear in the present perfect tense.
weinen: Ich habe geweint.
to cry: I have cried.
lachen: Ich habe gelacht.
to laugh: I have laughed.
trinken: Ich habe getrunken.
to drink: I have drunk.
rauchen: Ich habe geraucht.
to smoke: I have smoked.
aufbrauchen: Ich habe meine Kräfte aufgebraucht.
to use up: I have used up my strength.
lügen: Ich habe gelogen.
to lie: I have lied.
betrügen: Ich habe dich und mich betrugen.
to cheat: I have cheated you and me.
sinken: Ich bin gesunken.
to sink: I have sunk.
With the verbs in this song we can actually learn something else in addition to the present perfect. We can also learn the opposites of several popular verbs.
fliegen – to fly
fallen – to fall
gewinnen – to win
verlieren – to lose
geben – to give
nehmen – to take
weinen – to cry
lachen – to laugh
All in all, this is a great song, not just because it has a great tune, but because it is a built in mini lesson about das Perfekt. You can learn German from it simply by enjoying a great love song.