Present perfect



The present perfect tense can express the past and the future.


Examples time
Er ist letztes Jahr nach München gezogen. past
Bis morgen habe ich die Arbeit erledigt.



Reference to the past: present perfect vs Präteritum


The present perfect can be used interchangeably with the Präteritum without any semantic differences.


The only difference between the present perfect and the Präteritum lies in their use. In order to express past events in the spoken language, the use of the present perfect is preferable, while the Präteritum is mostly used in written texts and in narration.


The Präteritum of the auxiliary verbs sein and haben and of the modal verbs is used in the spoken language.


However, only the present perfect can be used to describe an event that refers to the past. Only the present perfect can express an event that has been completed in the past but its effect is still present at the moment of speaking. 


Examples reference to the present tense
Die Straßen sind nass. Es hat nämlich geregnet. yes right
Die Straßen sind nass. Es regnete nämlich. no false


Reference to the future: present perfect vs future perfect (Future II)


The present perfect can also be used to refer to an event that will be completed in the future. In this case, it must be accompanied by a temporal reference to the future event. 


Bis morgen habe ich die Arbeit erledigt.
In zwei Monaten hat er sein Examen geschafft.
Wir haben es bald geschafft.



The present perfect with a reference to the future can be interchangeably used with the future perfect tense (Future II) without any semantic differences.


Bis morgen werde ich die Arbeit erledigt haben.
In zwei Monaten wird er sein Examen geschafft haben.
Wir werden es bald geschafft haben.