German Participle Clauses

Partizipalsätze im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

German Participle Clauses – Summary


The participial clauses are subordinate clauses which are built by using the participle 1 or the participle 2. This subordinate clause is also characterized by the subject of the main clause being the subject of the participial clause. The verb becomes a participle and is put at the end of the phrase.

Participle Clauses with Participle 1

By using the verb in its participle 1 form in a participle clause, you express that actions take place at the same time.

  • “Die Werkzeuge in den Händen haltend, wollte Tim sein Auto reparieren.”
  • “Zum Bahnhof laufend, wollte er noch den Zug erwischen.”

Participle Clauses with Participle 2

By using the verb in its participle 2 form in a participle clause, you express that one action takes place before the other action.

  • “Die Zähne geputzt, mussten die Kinder gleich ins Bett.”
  • “Zu spät losgegangen, haben Mark und Lisa den Bus verpasst.”
German Participle Clauses

Just imagine how easy German could be… Simple, short sentences with a simple word order. Well, in combination with a good dictionary, you are ready to write beautiful texts in German and enter the depths of conversations in German.

Unfortunately, reality is cruel – and even crueler when it comes to study German. Here, we have a bunch of different subordinate clauses, that allow you to express yourself in a more complex way. In this article, I’d like to talk to you about German participle clauses and go into some details about this kind of sentence.

So, in the following, we will talk about what German participle clauses actually are and also talk about their correct usage, construction and their word order. Well, let’s not lose too much time and start right ahead and clear up the grammatical term of German participle clauses. Auf geht’s!

The Description and Usage of German Participle Clauses

Eine Beschreibung und Verwendung von Partizipsätzen im Deutschen

Description of German Participle Clauses

So, we have reached the first point of this article. Now, we will try to describe what German participle clauses actually are. After that, we will also talk about the correct usage of this type of subordinate clause.

German participle clauses are subordinate sentences that use a present or a past participle. Apart from that, they mostly refer to the subject of the corresponding main sentence.

German participle clauses can be used to form long dependent sentences in a much shorter way, and they also direct the attention of the reader to the main clause.

Although they do not occur so frequently in the German language, you can still find them in written texts like novel and stories and even sometimes in speech.

Usage of German Participle Clauses

Well, let’s now go into some detail about the correct usage of German participle clauses. First of all, you should state that there are two kinds of German participle clauses in German grammar.

  1. First, we use a past participle in order to show that an action in our subordinate clause happened before the action in the main sentence. Well, look at this example:
    “Seinen Hund gefüttert, widmet sich Philip dem Abendessen.” – Having fed his dog, Philip dedicates to the dinner.
  2. Second, we use the present participle to show that both actions take place at the same time.
    “Die Suppe mit der linken Hand umrührend, frietiert Philip das Fleisch mit der rechten Hand.” – Mixing the soup with the left hand, Philip fries the meat with the right hand.

The Construction and Word Order of German Participle Clauses

Die Konstruktion und der Satzbau von Partizipalsätzen im Deutschen

The Construction of German Participle Clauses

So, at this point of this article I’d like to talk about the construction and the word order of German participle clauses. Well, here are some important facts about the construction of these subordinate clauses.

  • First, there is no subject in a German participle clause. Apart from that, the subject of the main clause is also the subject of the participle clause.
  • Second, the full verb is turned into a participle and placed at the end of the participle clause.
  • And third, the conjunctions and helping verbs, which are supposed to clarify temporal relationships, are not used in the participle sentence. Furthermore, the participle itself indicated whether the action take place before (past participle) or at the same time (present participle) as the action in the main clause.

Well, let’s have a look at some examples that illustrate what I mean by these three points.

  • Simultaneous Action – Present Participle
    “Während Philip das fleisch brät, spielt er mit seinem Hund.” – “Das Fleisch bratend, spielt Philip mit seinem Hund.”
  • One Action Before the Other – Past Participle
    “Nachdem Philip das Fleisch gebraten hat, spielt er mit seinem Hund.” – “Das Fleisch gebraten, spielt Philip mit seinem Hund.”

The Conjunctions of German Participles

Well, as you might have noticed, there are two types of participles necessary for the construction of German participle clauses. Here, I only want to explain their conjunction in a short way. So, in case you’d like to have some more detailed knowledge, just have a look at this article about German participles!

First, we should keep in mind that we from the present present participle by adding a “-d” to the end of the infinitive of the verb. (“braten” – “bratend”)

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule – but as I have already mentioned, just have a look at our article for more details.

Second, the past participle of regular verbs is constructed by adding “ge…t”. (“braten – “gebraten”)

Especially the past participle has many exceptions in its conjugation, so try to read and study more about this type of German participle.



Finally, we have reached the last part of this article where you can prove the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and… auf Wiedersehen!

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