‘Present Perfect Continues’ in German

German Language Coach Present tenseDuring many years of teaching German to English speakers, I found that many students tend to struggle with the same aspects of German due to the different structure of English. This blog serves to highlight recurring problems to help learners of German to overcome these challenges.

Yesterday, for example, I was teaching a regular student in the City of London. He has been having regular German lessons for about 6 months. Yet he still struggles to express in German something that has started in the past and is continuing up until now. When I asked him in German how long he has been studying German, he answered in German using the Perfect tense, which is the closest match to the Present Perfect Continues in English, which you would use to answer that question in English. However, that tense does not exist in German. Instead, he should have used the Present Tense in German. You may ask why he continues making that mistake after having had lessons for over 6 months. Since earliest childhood, he is used to the Syntax of English and only repeated practise will help him achieve his goal that German syntax becomes second nature. I shall ask him the same question every week: Seit wann lernen Sie Deutsch?

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