Double perfect

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The double perfect (also double perfect , perfect II , super perfect , ultra perfect or double present perfect ) is a past tense of the German language, which occurs in the German dialects as well as in the German colloquial language . Analogous to the double perfect, there is also the double past perfect .

Education and use

In the case of the double perfect, the auxiliary verb "haben" or "sein", which is necessary to form the perfect, is in the present tense. The expressive verb and again the auxiliary verb are both always in the past participle and are therefore the same in every person.

  • I wrote to him ( past tense )
  • I wrote to him ( perfect )
  • I had written to him ( past perfect )
  • I wrote to him (double perfect)
  • I had written to him (double past perfect)

There are two main functions of the double perfect. On the one hand the addition of a reinforcing, emphasizing aspect. In this usage, the double perfect occurs in the spoken colloquial language of the entire German-speaking area, even if it is not in standard language:

  • I told you! (standard language)
  • I told you so! (reinforced, emphasized)

On the other hand, in those dialectal, predominantly southern German-speaking areas that are affected by the fading of the past , the double perfect is used as a substitute for the past perfect if the completed aspect is important to the speaker:

  • By the time he went to bed, he had already turned the heat down. (standard language with past perfect)
  • When he went to bed, he had already turned the heat down. (not in standard language with double perfect)

Substitute form for subjunctive I past perfect

Since no separate subjunctive I past perfect can be formed in German, a construction with a double perfect participle is used, which looks like a double perfect.

Direct speech: "I couldn't do my homework yesterday (past tense) because I forgot the book at school (past perfect)."

Indirect speech: The pupil apologized for not being able to do his homework (subjunctive I perfect, since the past tense does not develop an associated subjunctive) because he had forgotten the book at school (double participle as a substitute for the subjunctive I past perfect ).


There is evidence of the double perfect with being in German since the 13th century , for the one with having since the 15th century, and it is attested early on from all dialect areas ( high , middle and low German ).

According to the conventional view, it is said to have originated in the Upper German-speaking area in connection with the Upper German past tense fading , where a separate time was needed for the previous past. Michael Rödel cited a number of arguments against this explanation, who evaluated the phenomenon as an aspectual appearance, in that the speaker could use the double perfect in a closed state of affairs. Sonja Zeman, who suggested dialogic versus narrative orality and written form as a feature opposition, offers a different explanation. Isabel Buchwald-Wargenau was able to supplement the evidence in terms of time and space, so that at least the causality of the Upper German past tense shrinkage can now be regarded as refuted.

The double perfect also occurs in numerous other European and non-European languages.

Language criticism

The double perfect was picked up and criticized by Bastian Sick in his onion fish columns . This is contradicted by the fact that the double perfect as well as the double past perfect was not created recently, but has been found since the Middle Ages (see above). Authors such as Thomas Bernhard , Hermann Broch , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , Günter Grass , Ludwig Thoma and Christa Wolf also made use of these past tenses:

"Mignon was hiding, had touched him and bit his arm."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe : Master Wilhelm's apprenticeship years, 5th book, 12th chapter

"But I hadn't prepared the Nepos and couldn't translate."

- Ludwig Thoma : The engagement


  • Isabel Buchwald-Wargenau: The double perfect formations in German. A diachronic investigation (= Studia Linguistica Germanica. 115). De Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-029244-2 .
  • Duden - The grammar (= Duden. 4). Edited by the Duden editorial team. 8th, revised edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim / Zurich 2009, §§ 658, 745, 750, 769.
  • Hans Werner Eroms: [Review by] Michael Rödel: Double perfect formations and the organization of tense in German (= studies on German grammar , volume 74). Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2007. In: ZRS , 1 (2009), pp. 243-253, March 7, 2017; (PDF).
  • Viktor P. Litvinov, Vladimir I. Radčenko: Double perfect formations in literary language (= studies on German grammar , 55). Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1998, ISBN 3-86057-445-0 .
  • Michael Rödel: Double perfect formations and the organization of tense in German (= studies on German grammar , 74). Stauffenburg, Tübingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-86057-465-2 .
  • Franziska-Christina Machalitza: The double perfect forms as periphrastic verb constructions with expressive participle . Dr. Kovač, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-8300-9693-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Structure of contemporary German II ( memento of the original from August 12, 2012 on WebCite ; PDF) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Lecture University of Würzburg, p. 26. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Ludger Hoffmann: German grammar. Basics for teacher training, school, German as a second language and German as a foreign language. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2016, p. 251.
  3. a b Isabel Buchwald-Wargenau: The double perfect formations in German. A diachronic investigation (= Studia Linguistica Germanica. 115). De Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 2012.
  4. ^ According to Robert Peter Ebert, Oskar Reichmann, Hans-Joachim Solms, Klaus-Peter Wegera: Early New High German Grammar. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1993 (collection of short grammars of Germanic dialects A.12), p. 390 it is found for the first time in Albert Ölinger's German grammar from 1573, and before 1700 it can only be documented from southern German texts.
  5. Michael Rödel: Double perfect formations. Tübingen 2007, pp. 181-198.
  6. Sonja Zeman: Tempus and "Orality" in Middle High German. On the interdependence of grammatical perspective setting and “historical orality” in the Middle High German tense system (= Studia Linguistica Germanica. 102). De Gruyter, Berlin 2010.
  7. ^ Andreas Ammann: The fate of 'redundant' verbal forms - Double perfect constructions in the languages ​​of Europe. In: STUF - Language Typology and Universals 60, 2007, pp. 186-204. Ammann mentions Yiddish and Dutch of the Germanic languages, of the Romance French (Temps surcomposé), Catalan, Italian, Occitan and Romansh, of the Slavic Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Sorbian as well as Basque, Breton, Korean and Hungarian.
  8. Bastian Sick: The ultra-perfect