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The present participle in German grammar

How to use the present participle
The most common use of the German present participle is as an adjective. Like other adjectives, the present participle takes on endings when it is used attributively.
A participle is a word formed from a verb. In German grammar, there are two types of participles:

Participle I is the present participle (similar to the gerund in English grammar), and Participle II is the past participle (formed with -ed in English).

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We can use participles as adjectives, to shorten or replace sentences, or in the conjugation of compound German tenses.

Present participle
We use the German Partizip Präsens or Partizip I:

  • For one of two actions taking place at the same time

Example: Frau Müller zieht sich singend ihre Jacke an. Mrs Müller puts on her jacket while singing.

  • As an attributive adjective (with an adjectival ending).

Example: In einem neben der Kommode stehenden Schirmständer steht ein Schirm. There is an umbrella in an umbrella stand next to the chest of drawers.

Past participle
We use the German past participle or Partizip II:

  • Instead of a clause expressing that the action described by the participle took place before another action.

Example: Den Wetterbericht gehört, weiß Frau Kunze, dass es heute nicht regnen wird. Hearing the weather report, Mrs Kunze knows that it will not rain today.

  • As an attributive adjective (with an adjectival ending).

Example: Deshalb lässt sie den zusammengeklappten Schirm dort stehen. That's why she leaves the folded umbrella there.

  • In compound tenses (present, future, perfect).

Example: Die beiden haben sich lange nicht mehr getroffen. They haven't met for a long time.

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Quick Tip: Navigating the Present Participle in German Grammar

When encountering the present participle in German grammar, remember that it's formed by adding "-end" to the stem of regular verbs and "-d" to the stem of irregular verbs. This construction helps you express ongoing actions or activities in the present tense.

 For the verb "lesen" (to read):

  • Regular verb: "lesen" becomes "lesend" (reading)

  • Irregular verb: "haben" (to have) becomes "habend" (having)

By grasping this pattern, you'll effortlessly incorporate the present participle into your language repertoire, allowing you to convey dynamic actions and enhance your communication with a touch of grammatical finesse.


Present Participle

  • With the verb sein, we add an extra e before the n.

    Example: sein - seiend


Past Participle

  • Many strong and mixed verbs change their stem in the past participle

      Example: gehen – gegangen, bringen – gebracht

  • If the word stem ends in -d/-t, we add an extra et to weak and mixed verbs

    Example: warten – gewartet

  • Verbs with the ending -ieren form the past participle without ge

    Example: studieren – studiert

  • Inseparable verbs form the past participle without ge

    Example: verstehen – verstanden

  • With separable verbs, the ge goes after the prefix

    Example: ankommen – angekommen

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