Grammar

Simple past: regular verbs (2)

The simple past is used above all in written language to describe the past. It is used, for example, in biographical texts:

Der Architekt Walter Gropius wanderte 1934 aus und arbeitete ab 1937 in den USA.

The verbs wandern and arbeiten are examples of regular verbs. You've already learned the difference between regular and irregular verbs in the present perfect tense. Verbs that are regular in the present perfect make the past participle by adding -t. These verbs are also regular in the simple past.

We make the simple past of regular verbs by adding -te- to the verb root, followed by the personal ending. In the first- and third-person singular, no ending is added the -te.

The verb is conjugated as follows:

Singular  
1st person ich wanderte
2nd person du wandertest
3rd person er/sie/es wanderte
Plural  
1st person wir wanderten
2nd person ihr wandertet
3rd person sie wanderten
Formal Sie wanderten

 

You already know this conjugation from other verbs in the simple past.

If the verb root ends in -t or -d, -ete- is inserted after it.

Singular  
1st person ich arbeitete
2nd person du arbeitetest
3rd person er/sie/es arbeitete
Plural  
1st person wir arbeiteten
2nd person ihr arbeitetet
3rd person sie arbeiteten
Formal Sie arbeiteten

 

Grammatical terms in German:

das Präteritum: The simple past is a verb tense. We usually use the simple past in written language to describes events, activities or situations that took place in the past. The simple past of some verbs, for example sein, is also common in spoken language.

 

Grammar