The German Present Participle – Partizip I

Partizip I

The German Present Participle – Partizip I

Clarifying a Common Mistake Before We Start:

For anyone who’s learned English, especially in North America, you probably remember hearing the definition of a verb being “the word ending in -ing.” That was definitely a simplification that put many of us on the wrong grammatical path for a long part of our lives, maybe you’re still on it. I can’t count the amount of highly educated people I’ve taught who can’t identify the verb or subject of a sentence.

The true story behind the “-ing rule” is that, verbs ending in -ing are the present participle if they are used with the verb “to be“. Because in English we are often talking in the present continuous tense (I am writing a blog post. You are reading my post.) many English sentences have -ing verbs and of course they give us more information about what is actually happening than the “am, is, are” of the conjugated verb “to be“. There are in fact two verbs in the above sentences the auxiliary verb to be (am, are), and the present participle, which gives more information (writing, reading).

Now you’re learning German, and you need to think a little differently. First rule, we don’t usually use a continuous case in German. I am writing a blog post. = Ich schreibe einen Blogartikel. The simple tense and continuous tense are expressed in the same way. German speakers know which is which from the context.

German Present Tenses:

Present simpleI read.Ich lese.
Present continuousI am reading

The German Present Participle – Partizip I:

Lachende Koelnarena physischRemember learning the Partizip II, the part participle, and how we could also use it as an adjective? well in German the present participle is most often used as an adjective. The present participle describes a state in which the thing it is describing is is at the time of the story.

  • Die lachenden Kinder zogen gemeinsam davon.  (The laughing children moved on together.)
    • Though the sentence is in the past “davonzogen” at the time they moved on they were laughing.
  • Die staunenden Zuschauer klatschen begeistert Beifall. (The astounded/marvelling audience is applauding.)
    • The sentence is in the present “Beifall klatschen” and the audience is marvelling/astounded.
  • Die gestern noch lachenden Kinder sind heute sehr traurig. (The children, who were laughing yesterday, are very sad today.)
    •  Yesterday the children were laughing, but they’re not anymore.

The above examples highlight two important things about the German Partizip I: How to build it, and how it’s often translated.

Characteristics of the German Partizip I:

Construction of the German Partizip I:

Constructing the Partizip I in German is really easy – easier than the past participle.  We take the verb in its infinitive form and and -d. If the verb is acting as an attributive adjective we then add an adjective ending.

Infinitiv des Verbs + d + (Adjektiv-Endung)


  • Hans ging zu der wartenden Frau. (Hans went to the woman, who was waiting.)
  • Das Haus braucht noch fliessendes Wasser. (the house still needs running water.)


  • sein –> seiend
  • tun –> tuend

Translating the Partizip I from German to English:

When translating the adjectival phrases with Partizip I from German into English, we often use relative clauses in the English for clarification.


  • Die gestern noch lachenden Kinder sind heute sehr traurig. (The children, who were laughing yesterday, are ver sad today.)
  • Der schnell vorbeifahrende Zug machte grossen Lärm. (The train, which was quickly passing by, made a tremendous noise.)

Adjectival and adverbial use of the Partizip I:

The Partizip I can be used as either an attributive adjective, in which case it needs an adjective ending, or as an adverb. It can also be used in the comparative and superlative form. remember that adverbs and adjectives are the same in German, except adverbs never take endings.


  • Sie sehen in den funkelnden Sternenhimmel. (They’re looking at the sparkling starry sky.) [attributive adjective with an ending]
  • Die Werbung malt das Produkt in den leuchtendsten Farben. (The advertising paints the product in the most shining colours.) [attributive, superlative adjective with an ending]
  • Sie kam lachend aus dem Haus. (She came laughing out of the house.) [adverbial form]

The Gerund form of Partizip I:

Because of their -ing ending and the lack of capitalization in English gerunds are often mistaken for verbs by many who don’t understand grammar. Here is the definition:

a verb form which functions as a noun, in Latin ending in -ndum (declinable), in English ending in -ing (e.g. asking in do you mind my asking you? ).

reisendeEssentially it is turning verbs into nouns. In German we love to do this. Unlike English though, we often do not use the Partizip I form, but rather just capitalize the verb and turn it into a “das” word like “das Lesen” and “das Fernsehen” etc. Yet, we often do turn words from the Partizip I form into proper nouns. if you’ve ever been to a German speaking airport, you’ll have surely heard or seen the word “Reisende” (travellers / those who are travelling). Here are the most common of them. If you use the Partizip I, you’ll need to add the proper endings (More often than not it will be -en).

Partizip IBeispiel
abwesendAlle Abwesenden haben diese wichtige Information nicht erhalten.
absentAll those absent did not receive this important information.
anwesendAlle Anwesenden haben die Prüfung bestanden.
presentAll those present passed the test.
ausbildendDie Auszubildenden müssen einen Nachweis über die Ausbildung führen.
apprenticingApprentices must carry proof of their education.
heranwachsendHeranwachsende sind Personen, die ein Alter von 18 – 20 Jahren haben.
adolescentAdolescents are those between the ages of 18 – 20.
leidtragendBei einer Scheidung sind die Kinder immer die Leidtragenden.
bereavedIn a divorce, it’s always the children who suffer.
mitwirkendAllen Mitwirkenden an dieser Sendung gilt ein besonderer Dank.
contributingAll those contributing to this program are due a special thanks.
reisendReisende soll man nicht aufhalten.
travelersTravellers should not be delayed.
überlebendBei dem gestrigen Flugzeugabsturz gab es keine Überlebenden.
survivingThere were no survivors in yesterday’s plane crash.
vorsitzendDer Vorsitzende des Vereins stellt sein Amt zur Verfügung.
presidingThe chairman of the association is opening his position. (Stepping down)


Complete these sentences with the Partizip I. For 6-10, write a sentence with Partizip I based on the info given and the sentence leads.

  1. Die Kind spielen im Garten.
    1. Wir beobachten die ______________________ Kinder im Garten.
  2. Der Papagei von Marko kann sprechen.
    1. Marko hat einen ______________________ Papagei.
  3. Der nächste Urlaub kommt bald.
    1. Im ______________________ Urlaub fliegen wir nach Thailand.
  4. Im Theater kann der Holländder fliegen.
    1. Der ______________________ Holländer ist ein Musical.
  5. Wir brauchen Wasser, das fliesst.
    1. Wir brauchen ______________________ Wasser.
  6. Das Haus brennt.
    1. Wir _____________________________________________________________________________.
  7. Viele Passagiere warten am Flughafen.
    1. Ich beobachte ____________________________________________________________________.
  8. Der Film regt meine schwester auf.
    1. Es ist ____________________________________________________________________________.
  9. Das Schiff sank sehr schnell.
    1. Sie konnten ______________________________________________________________________.
  10. Dieser Mann sieht wirklich gut aus.
    1. Er ist ____________________________________________________________________________.

Related Posts:


  1. JagerMitchellJagerMitchell02-20-2014

    “Here are the most common of them. If you use the Partizip I, you’ll need to add the proper endings (More often than not it will be -en).
    Alle Abwesenden haben diese wichtige Information nicht erhalten.
    Reisende soll man nicht aufhalten.”

    Quick question, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly are we conjugating the Partizip as a noun to? I assumed we were adding the plural ending to the “absent” because their are more than one of them; however, aren’t there also multiple travelers and adolescents? I must be missing something pretty important.

    Danke im Voraus!

    Leave a Reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.


    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

    Join other followers: