What is the proper term for this construction? I know exactly what the text means but I simply want to know how to look it up in grammar books.

Während an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze bewaffnete Separatisten wüten,...

  • @dirkts answer seems correct. The sentence is a little confusing, though: The separatists were not necessarily armed at the border but were most likely armed to begin with and are now only raging at the border. But that is not entirely clear, another order of the elements, as suggested in the answer, would be better. Apr 24, 2014 at 6:46
  • 3
    Die fette Hervorhebung irritiert. Das "bewaffnete" bezieht sich auf die Separatisten - zwischen beiden Begriffen die Grenze zu ziehen kann m.E. nur falsch sein. Apr 25, 2014 at 5:08
  • You should explain which aspect of the part of the sentence you are referring to.
    – Carsten S
    May 20, 2014 at 22:17
  • I did, it's bolded.
    – emaltman
    May 21, 2014 at 0:06

4 Answers 4


If my grammar lessons are not totaly lost on me I'd say:

Während Separatisten wüten, 

is a temporal sub clause and

an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze

is a "adverbiale Bestimmung (des Ortes)"

I hope that helps for looking up the concept... (hope I'm not wrong)

  • Precisely what i (think i) was looking for...thank you so much!
    – emaltman
    Apr 24, 2014 at 21:54
  • I really hope I did not mislead you there, it was really only in the back of my mind.
    – Magellan88
    Apr 24, 2014 at 21:56
  • Ill comb my books and see if that sounds right....either way i learned some new terminology
    – emaltman
    Apr 24, 2014 at 21:58
  • Während is not temporal there, it's adversative.
    – c.p.
    May 18, 2014 at 12:35
  • @ c.p. : That is indeed an interesting opinion, would you kindly care to add some support to it? I feel it could be both depending on how the sentence continues and what the intention is. " ... wüten, finden Friedensgespräche statt." I would be 100% with you, because in that case it expresses the conflict between the opposing groups. However if it ended: " ... wüten, kommt auch im Sudan die Kriese nicht zur Ruhe." the während is expressing a temporal coincidence. What do you think?
    – Magellan88
    May 20, 2014 at 7:02

This is not ONE construction.

an der ... Grenze

this is a simple local information.

bewaffnete Separatisten

this is the subject. "Bewaffnet" is the past participle of "bewaffnen" used as an adjective.

  • As stated, I clearly understand the sentence. I'm looking for the term where any number of phrases, usually prepositional ones, + the past participle get thrown behind the noun. Compared to the alternate construction "Während bewaffnete Separatisten .... wüten."
    – emaltman
    Apr 23, 2014 at 21:05
  • 1
    @emaltman.. I don't understand what you mean. First of, the things are BEFORE the noun in our example. Second of all, "bewaffnete" has NOTHING to do with the prepositional phrase. I think what you are going for is "Partizipialkonstruktion" ... like "Während die bis an die Zähne bewaffneten Seperatisten etwas machen..."
    – Emanuel
    Apr 23, 2014 at 21:09

Maybe it's easier to understand if you turn it into a main clause.

Bewaffnete Separatisten wüten an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze.

So the participle "bewaffnet" is used as an adjective to modify "Separatisten", but "an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze" is an adverbial for the whole clause.

Now German is flexible with regard to word order, so you can arrange the two parts in a number of ways, and it will look different in a main clause and a subclause, because the verb is in a different position:

(An der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze) wüten (bewaffnete Separatisten).

Während (bewaffnete Separatisten) (an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze) wüten, …

Während (an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze) (bewaffnete Separatisten) wüten, …

So the grammatical principle is just that you can re-arrange some parts of the sentence, while some parts have a fixed position. Does that answer the question? Or did you mean something else?


Your grouping is wrong. The separatists have not been armed at a particular location, the separatists are armed and they are at a particular location. This can only be gleaned from context!

For example:

Obwohl im Krankenhaus infizierte Patienten eine raschere Behandlung erhalten, sind sie durch die resistenten Stämme gefährdeter.

You cannot tell from grammar alone whether the infected patients get a quicker treatment in hospitals than somewhere else or whether patients that got infected in hospitals get a quicker treatment than patients that got infected somewhere else.

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