The German perfect tense is formed using one of two auxiliary verbs: haben, “to have,” or sein, “to be.” The verb in German takes the second position in a sentence, or if two verbs are involved, such as with module verbs, the action verb is bounced to the end. For example: ich esse weckle pudding mit sahne. “I eat wiggle pudding [Jello] with cream.” Esse, the conjugated form of “to eat” takes the the second position in the sentence, directly after ich, or “I.” If I say “I would like to eat Jello with cream,” the sentence would be formed “ich möchte weckle pudding mit sahne essen.” The conjugated form of möchten is now in the second position, and the infinitive, essen, is at the end. In the perfect tense, I might say in English “I have eaten Jello with cream,” but in German it would go “ich habe weckel pudding mit sahne gegessen.” Literally, “I have Jello with cream eaten.” (The perfect tense also adds “ge” to the end of the action verb, and there are other rules involved with the exact ending of the verb depending upon whether they are considered “strong” or “weak.” They are complicated and confusing. Amusingly, when I speak in English these days, I keep accidentally adding “ge” before my perfect-tense action verbs. Zum beispiel, “I have gemoved.”)
Apart from the oddity with the sentence structure, German also (as I have gementioned) forms its perfect tense using the verb “to be” as well as “to have.” I would not say ich habe gegangen (I have gone,) but rather, ich bin gegangen (I am gone.) Obviously this is confusing for English speakers, as “have gone” and “am gone” are both valid sentences, just with different meanings. To better demonstrate how odd this sounds when it is directly translated into English, consider that in German I would literally say someone “is died,” “is flown,” “is driven,” “is run,” “is been,” etc. etc. Quite clearly, these are odd sentences for English speakers to grow accustomed to, and even I still laugh at them sometimes. And yet, when my German teacher first taught us this, he pointed out that these sentences are not unknown to English, although they are rare. The sentence my teacher used as an example is one I still remember: Christ is risen.
He is gerisen indeed, my friends. He is gerisen indeed.