How do I know whether a verb takes haben or sein in the perfect tense?

Haben and sein are used as the auxiliary verbs in the perfect tense before the past participle. Whether you need haben or sein depends on the meaning of the verb you are putting into the perfect tense.  Most verbs will take haben, but there are lots of verbs which take sein. These are verbs of:

Movement- for example gehen, fahren and fallen. " Sie IST nach Berlin gefahren."

A change of state- for example einschlafen (to fall asleep) which describes the change of one state to another.

Exceptions such as sein and bleiben (to be and to stay.) These do not fit into a clear cut category, unfortunately they simply have to be learned so that you know they take sein in the perfect tense:

"Ich bin in der Schule gewesen" (I was in school)

"Wir sind zu Hause geblieben" (we stayed at home)

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