Ich bin nach Hause gegangen.

English Translation

I went home.

I thought ‘I have gone home’ would be a better translation

The Germans prefer present perfect tense over simple past tense to describe past events. In English it’s the other way around, with simple past tense being preferred:

Ich habe es gesehen = I saw it (I have seen it)
Er hat es getan = he did it (he has done it)
Wir haben das Motorrad repariert = we repaired the motorcycle (we have repaired it)


Exactly right. For some odd reason, many Germans prefer the perfect.

There are, however, also Germans who the prefer simple past over the perfect. :slight_smile:

So please don’t feel compelled to use the perfect when you naturally would use the simple past, just to conform with German idiosyncrasies. It’s perfectly fine in Germany to use the simple past.

Especially in (business) writing, the simple past should be preferred, simply because it’s more concise than the perfect. Particularly in professional settings, it’s appreciated to communicate concisely. And because I dislike talking differently from how I write, I try to talk how I write.

Meaning, I’m one of those Germans who, as with English, prefers the simple past. I myself would have said:

Ich ging nach Hause.

To the person listening to me (or reading my email), the second word (“ging”) already told them what I was doing, whereas with the perfect, that person would have to wait until the fifth word (“gegangen”) before they finally were told what I was doing.

Ich bin nach Hause gegangen.

If you ever applied for something and, while reading the answer, wondered whether it will turn out to be an acceptance or a rejection, you’ll know what a difference the location of the relevant word makes.

You should get to the point quickly, and the perfect doesn’t help with that.

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