Hallo, Deutschlerner. Did you know you can use verbs as adjectives in German? Well, in this lesson I will explain which forms of verbs can be used as adjectives and how you can use them in your own German sentences. Today I’m talking all about Partizip I and Partizip II as adjectives in German.
Examples of Partizip I & II as Adjectives
First let’s take a look at some examples to see what we are even talking about and get you oriented a bit.
Das lachende Baby ist sehr niedlich. –
The laughing baby is very cute.
Der Polizist half dem blutenden Jungen. –
The police officer helped the bleeding boy.
Ich werde das verbrannte Schnitzel nicht essen. – I will not eat the burned schnitzel (cutlet).
Der Mann fährt trotz der zerbrochenen Windscheibe. –
The man is driving in spite of the broken windshield.
The Difference Between Partizip I and Partizip II
As you can see, there are two versions of verbs that I used as adjectives. In the first two sentences I used verb forms that show the noun is doing something at the time of the sentence. This does not affect the tense of the sentence and the tense of the sentence does not affect the adjective.
In the first sentence I used the present tense (Präsens) and a present participle (called Partizip I in German). The baby is laughing at the same time that it is cute in that sentence. In the second sentence I used the simple past tense (Präteritum) and a present participle as an adjective. The boy was bleeding at the time that the police officer helped, but the entire event took place in the past.
In the second two sentences I used verb forms that show the noun is in a state after the action of the verb has been completed. So, while I used the future tense (Futur I) in the sentence about schnitzel, the burning happened prior to that, which left the schnitzel in a burned state. In the next sentence I used the present tense (Präsens), but the breaking of the windshield occurred prior to the driving in that sentence. The windshield is already in the broken state before the man started driving.
In English we label these participles in a clearer manner than we do in German. In English we call the Partizip I “present participle” and the Partizip II “past participle”. These names help us to understand what they do and why we might need them.
What is a Partizip I (present participle)?
The present participle or “Partizip I” is used to describe an action being done by the noun that it precedes. For example: das lachende Baby – the laughing baby. The child is currently laughing and rather than say “Das Kind, das lacht, ist niedlich.” we shorten the sentence down to use the verb “lachen” as an adjective.
In order to form the Partizip I of a German verb, simply add -d to the end of the infinitive. “lachen” becomes “lachend” and “bluten” becomes “blutend”. Once you have that, you simply add the correct adjective ending to go with the case and gender of the noun being described. Here are a few more examples of Partizip I as adjectives.
Der Mann spricht mit dem schreibenden Kind. –
The man is talking with the writing child.
Seine Mutter wollte wissen, was das Problem des schreienden Jungen war. –
His mother wanted to know what the problem of the screaming boy was.
Du wirst einen tanzenden Hund vor der Tür sehen. –
You will see a dancing dog in front of the door.
Nimm niemals einem fressenden Hund das Futter weg! –
Never take away the food from an eating dog.
What is a Partizip II (past participle)?
Partizip I is not nearly as common as Partizip II. The Partizip II is called “past participle” in English. It shows that an action is completed. You are likely already aware of how these are formed, as you need the Partizip II in order to create the Perfekt tense.
Partizip II generally start with ge- and end with -t. That only works with regular verbs, however. Irregular verbs can be as simple as using -en at the end instead of -t, but it can be more complicated like a stem-vowel change like “beginnen” changing to “begonnen”. I’m not going to go into great depth into the formation of these participles, as that is better left for a lesson about the Perfekt tense and I already did that in the video linked in the description.
When you use a Partizip II as an adjective, you are essentially saying that the action that verb represents is already done and the noun you are describing is now in a state that follows that action’s completion. I mentioned the example of “das verbrannte Schnitzel” (the burned schnitzel) earlier. We know what happened to the schnitzel before it wasn’t eaten by the speaker in the sentence. We can tell this through the Partizip II.
Once we create the Partizip II, we simply add the correct adjective ending to match the case and gender of the noun, as we would with any other adjective. Here are a few more examples of these in action.
Kevin hat die gekauften Lebensmittel fallen gelassen. –
Kevin dropped the purchased groceries.
Der Feuerwehrmann findet die vermisste Katze. –
The fireman finds the lost cat.
Hänsel aß schnell die gebotenen Kekse. –
Hänsel ate the offered cookies quickly.
Mein Sohn nimmt das frisch gebackene Brot aus dem Ofen. –
My son takes the freshly baked bread out of the oven.
Partizip II with Adverbs
Quick side note about that last example. I added an adverb “frisch” before the adjective “gebackene”. Adverbs are used to describe adjectives among other things. In this sentence, the word “fresh” describes the way in which the “baked” state came about. In this case, recently, as the bread was freshly baked. Just for fun, let’s see a few more examples of that kind of thing.
Ein gut trainierter Hund zieht nicht an der Leine. –
A well-trained dog doesn’t pull on the leash.
Das Mädchen fährt ihr neu gekauftes Auto zur Schule. –
The girl drives her newly bought car to school.
Partizip II with Longer Adverbial Phrases
You can actually continue these kinds of phrases to make entire clauses out of them. For example:
Hänsel aß die von der Hexe gebotenen Kekse. –
Hänsel ate the cookies that were offered by the witch
Literally: Hänsel ate the from the witch offered cookies.
Der Verbrecher verkauft die vom Geschäft gestohlenen Waren. –
The criminal sells the goods that were stolen from the store.
Literally: The criminal sells the from store stolen goods.
To recap what we have learned so far: Partizip I refers to verbs, which look like infinitives with -d added to the end. When they are used as adjectives they show that the noun is engaged in that activity while the action of the sentence is taking place. Partizip II refers to verbs, which have been changed to the form used in the Perfekt tense. This is generally indicated by ge- in front and -t at the end, but there are a variety of other rules that dictate how to form the Partizip II. When used as an adjective, the Partizip II forms of verbs show that the noun is already in a certain state of being because of the action the Partizip II represents.
Now let’s take a look at some mixed examples to see these words in action.
Partizip I & II Examples
Der Polizist erkennt den versteckten Jungen. –
The police officer recognizes the hidden boy.
Der erkannte Junge kommt aus seinem entdeckten Versteck. –
The recognized boy comes out of his discovered hiding place.
Er spricht eine Weile mit dem beruhigenden Polizisten. –
He speaks with the calming police officer for a while.
Der erwischte Junge geht mit dem versichernden Polizisten zum Auto. –
The caught boy goes with the reassuring police officer to the car.
Das krabbelnde Baby ist auf dem frisch gefegten Boden. –
The crawling baby is on the freshly swept floor.
Die erschöpfte Mutter liegt auf dem mit ungefalteter Wäsche bedeckten Sofa und schaut zu. –
The exhausted mother lies on the sofa that is covered with unfolded laundry and watches.
Das krabbelnde Baby der erschöpften Mutter zieht sich an dem mit ungefalteter Wäsche bedeckten Sofa hoch und gibt der überraschten Mutter einen wohlverdienten Kuss. –
The crawling baby of the exhausted mother pulls itself up on the sofa that is covered with unfolded laundry and gives the surprised mother a well-deserved kiss.
If you would like more information about Partizip II and how to form them, click here. If you would like to practice what you learned in this lesson, click here for the extra materials for this lesson or become a channel member or a Patreon supporter to gain access to these materials and all new materials I upload for each video. Das ist alles für heute. Danke fürs Zuschauen. Bis zum nächsten Mal. Tschuss.