Simple past: sein

The simple past (also called preterite) is a grammatical tense used to express something in the past. It is mostly used in written language, e.g. in newspaper articles and literature.

The verbs sein and haben, however, are often used in spoken language in the simple past tense too.

Present tense:

An example of the present tense: Jetzt bin ich in Deutschland.
Image: DW

Simple past:

An example of the past tense: Letztes Jahr war ich in Spanien.
Image: DW

Here is a review of the present tense:

Singular  
1st person ich bin
2nd person du bist
3rd person er/sie/es ist
Plural  
1st person wir sind
2nd person ihr seid
3rd person sie sind
Formal (singular and plural) Sie sind


The simple past is formed as follows:

Singular  
1st person ich war
2nd person du warst
3rd person er/sie/es war
Plural  
1st person wir waren
2nd person ihr wart
3rd person sie waren
Formal (singular and plural) Sie waren

 

Grammatical terms in German:

das Präsens: The present is a verb tense. It is used when speaking about events, activities or situations that occur in the present or are ongoing.

das Präteritum: The simple past is a verb tense. It is used in written language to describe events, activities or situations that happened in the past. The simple past of certain verbs, e.g. sein, is often also used in spoken language.