Past tense of the verbs sein and haben

The main tense for the past in spoken German is the perfect tense. The past tense (Präteritum) is mainly used in written German (e.g. newspapers, novels). However, there is a small number of verbs that are frequently used in the past tense in spoken German.These include the verbs haben and sein as well as the modal verbs.

The verbs sein (to be) and haben (to have) are frequently used in the past tense (rather than the perfect tense) when referring to the past. Both verbs are irregular.

  • Wir waren letzten Monat in Amerika.
  • Wir hatten eine tolle Zeit.
  • Warst du auch im Urlaub?
sein haben
ich war hatte
du warst hattest
er, sie, es war hatte
wir waren hatten
ihr wart hattet
sie, Sie waren hatten

Exercise 1: Past tense of sein

Exercise 2: Past tense of haben