The Partizip Präsens in German

(The present participle in German grammar)

Table of contents – present participle

On this page you will find the following:

  1. What is the Partizip Präsens?
  2. Formation of the Partizip Präsens
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What is the Partizip Präsens?

The present participle (in German: Partizip Präsens) is the first participle and a non-finite verb form that occupies a special position between adjective and verb. Regarding tense, it refers to the present (Präsens). A specialty of this type of participle is that it describes an active process taking place at the moment of speaking. Although it can also be employed as an adverb, it most often takes the function of an adjective. It is then subject to the corresponding inflection or declension (grammatical agreement).

Compare the possible uses in the following example sentences:

  1. The present participle is frequently used adjectivally:
    • As an adjective, it can appear as a grammatical modifier and is declined correspondingly:
      • Sitzende Fahrgäste haben es bequemer.“ (Sitting passengers are more comfortable.)
        • Here, the participle is an adjectival qualifier of the noun ‘Fahrgäste’ (passengers).
      • „Sie beobachten den leuchtenden Sternenhimmel.“ (They are watching the starry sky shining.)
        • Again, it appears as an adjectival qualifier of the noun ‘Sternenhimmel’ (starry sky).
    • Some participles occur in a predicative role as part of the predicate. Is that the case, they are undeclined:
      • „Diese Entdeckung ist bahnbrechend.“ (This discovery is ground-breaking.)
        • Here, the participle is a predicative adjective and belongs to the subject.
      • „Die Aussagen der Rednerin waren sehr abwertend.“ (The statements of the speaker were very derogatory.)
        • The participle is part of a predicative expression here as well.
  2. The first participle can also be utilised as an adverb in undeclined form in a sentence:
    • „Der Hund rannte dem Einbrecher bellend hinterher.“ (Barking, the dog ran after the burglar.)
      • In this statement, the participle refers to the verb ‘rannte’ (ran).
    • „Sie riss wütend das Fenster auf und schrie heraus.“ (She angrily opened the window and shouted out.)
      • The participle is used adverbially with reference to the verb ‘riss’ (opened).

How is the Partizip Präsens formed?

The present participle (Partizip Präsens) is formed by appending the letter ‘-d’ to the infinitive of the verb. Thus, it generally ends in either ‘-end, -ernd’ or ‘-elnd’:

  • Present participles ending in ‘-end’:
    • schwimmend (swimming), redend (talking), fluchend (swearing)
  • … with the suffix ‘-ernd’:
    • dauernd (continuously), knabbernd (nibbling), wiehernd (neighing)
  • … with the suffix ‘-elnd’:
    • schwächelnd (faltering), lächelnd (smiling), murmelnd (mumbling)

Further explanations related to the ‘Partizip Präsens’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘Present participle (Partizip Präsens) in German grammar’ and may help you too: