Partizip I und II – Present and Past Participle in German Grammar

Introduction

A participle is a word formed from a verb. In German grammar, there are two kinds of participles; Partizip I is the present participle (similar to the gerund in English grammar), and Partizip II is the past participle (formed with -ed in English). We can use participles as adjectives, to shorten or replace clauses, or in the conjugation of compound German tenses.

Master the conjugation and usage of the present and past participle on Lingolia then put your Grammar skills to the test in our exercises.

Example

Frau Kunze wurde von einer Freundin in ein Café eingeladen. Die beiden haben sich lange nicht mehr gesehen. Nach ihrer Tasche greifend läuft Frau Kunze zur Tür.

In einem neben der Kommode stehenden Schirmständer steht ein Schirm. Den Wetterbericht gehört, weiß Frau Kunze, dass es heute nicht regnen wird. Deshalb lässt sie den zusammengeklappten Schirm dort stehen.

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Usage

Present Participle

We use the German present participle or Partizip I:

  • instead of a sentence clause for one of two simultaneously occurring actions
    Example:
    Nach ihrer Tasche greifend läuft Frau Kunze zur Tür.Reaching for her purse, Ms Kunze ran to the door.
  • as an attributive adjective (with an adjective ending)
    Example:
    In einem neben der Kommode stehenden Schirmständer steht ein Schirm.In an umbrella stand standing near the bureau, there’s an umbrella.

Past Participle

We use the German past participle or Partizip II:

  • instead of a sentence clause which expresses that the action described with the participle took place before another action
    Example:
    Den Wetterbericht gehört, weiß Frau Kunze, dass es heute nicht regnen wird.Having heard the weather report, Ms Kunze knows that it won’t rain today.
  • as an attributive adjective (with an adjective ending)
    Example:
    Deshalb lässt sie den zusammengeklappten Schirm dort stehen.That’s why she leaves the folded-up umbrella there.
  • in compound tenses (present perfect, past perfect, future perfect)
    Example:
    Die beiden haben sich lange nicht mehr gesehen.Those two haven’t seen each other for a long time.
  • in the passive voice
    Example:
    Frau Kunze wurde von einer Freundin in ein Café eingeladen.Ms Kunze was invited to a café by a friend.

Conjugation of German Participles (Partizip I und II)

Present Participle

The present participle is formed in the following way:

  • infinitive + d (for all verbs)
    Example:
    winken – winkendto wave – waving
    lachen – lachendto laugh – laughing

Past Participle

There are two ways to conjugate the past participle in German:

  • weak and mixed verbs: get
    Example:
    lernen – gelerntto learn – learned
    nennen – genanntto call – called
  • strong verbs: geen
    Example:
    sehen – gesehento see – seen

Exceptions

Present Participle

  • With the verb sein, we add an extra e before the n.
    Example:
    sein – seiendto be – being

Past Participle

  • Many strong and mixed verbs change their stem in the past participle. (see list)
    Example:
    gehen – gegangento go – gone
    bringen – gebrachtto bring – brought
  • If the word stem ends in -d/-t, we add an extra et to weak and mixed verbs.
    Example:
    warten – gewartetto wait – waited
  • Verbs with the ending -ieren form the past participle without ge.
    Example:
    studieren – studiertto study – studied
  • Inseparable verbs form the past participle without ge. (see separable/inseparable verbs)
    Example:
    verstehen – verstandento understand – understood
  • With separable verbs, the ge goes after the prefix. (see separable/inseparable verbs)
    Example:
    ankommen – angekommento arrive – arrived