Actually 2 questions:

  1. Do English Present Progressive and German Partizip 1 have the same grammatical origin? I mean something like I am thinking. and Ich bin denkend., although German uses it only in combination with verbs (e.g. Denkend starrte ich ins Leere.) which is more like a gerund.
  2. Can I also use Ich bin laufend. in the meaning of I am walking.?
  • When did both languages split regarding this tense?
    – R2D2
    May 2, 2014 at 7:41
  • 1
    Regarding "Ich bin laufend", this question came to my mind which should probably answer your question number 2.
    – Em1
    May 2, 2014 at 8:04
  • @Em1: Thank you very much, your link solves question 2
    – R2D2
    May 2, 2014 at 8:07

4 Answers 4


In most cases you don't translate progressive verb forms with a German equivalent of a progressive form ( ich mache gerade/ich bin beim/am Aufräumen), you simply take the normal verb forms. German does not make this excessive differentiation of progressive or non-progressive aspect as is usual in English.

In English grammars progessive verb forms are usually explained as a form of to be + present participle. Whether this is historically true is dubious. The ing-form may have been a gerund with a preposition before (in/at/on) which has been dropped.

In German progressive aspect never was expressed with present participle. "Ich bin aufräumend" is never used in German. You use the preposition am/beim + gerund to express progressive aspect or "gerade": Ich bin beim/am Aufräumen/ Ich räume gerade auf.

  • History really shows suffixes -end (e.g. laufend) and -ing (e.g. running) have the same root (see english.stackexchange.com/questions/167685/… )
    – äüö
    May 2, 2014 at 12:16
  • @rogermue Colloquial speech though: "Ich war einkaufen." I have heard this from southern Germany natives. Could you elaborate on this? May 2, 2014 at 13:19
  • 1
    @PatrickSebastien It does not seem to me typical of Southern Germany.But, of course, I know this structure. But I could not tell how it came into being. Possible is "Ich war einkaufen (gegangen) or: Ich war beim Einkaufen,
    – rogermue
    May 2, 2014 at 13:34
  • Continued: with drop of "beim" and Einkaufen taken as an infinitive. To me this expression seems to be more Northern German. But without research I can't really tell. So sorry.
    – rogermue
    May 2, 2014 at 13:47
  • I followed the link down to falkb's pretty good answer to english.stackexchange.com/questions/148670/… and now it's clear it originates from the gerund around the year 1500. Some other comments on the way to that answer show progressive forms in other languages have the same root.
    – R2D2
    May 4, 2014 at 18:51

Origin? Perhaps. Function, no. There is no progressive form in German, you'll have to use an alternative construction:

Ich bin gerade am Laufen. Ich laufe gerade. In diesem Moment laufe ich.

"Ich bin laufend" as such is wrong, although you can of course form sentences like "Ich bin laufend in neue Projekte involviert" (I am constantly involved in new projects).

  • can this example be mistaken with `I am involved in new projects in case I am running"?
    – R2D2
    May 2, 2014 at 7:38
  • No, since this is a well known collocation.
    – Ingmar
    May 2, 2014 at 7:45
  • In the last example "laufend" is an adverb meaning constantly.
    – rogermue
    May 2, 2014 at 14:33

You are getting something wrong here. I am walking and I am thinking express the progressing of the verb. But both the simple present forms I walk and I think as well as the present progressive forms I am walking and I am thinking translate to Ich denke (gerade) and Ich laufe (gerade). Expressing the "progressiveness" of the verb is not possible in german by the sheer use of grammatical structures. As is mentioned above the word gerade or the phrase im Moment are used to express that the action is taking place now and is likely to continue. But being precisely (so not talking about the colloquial use) gerade and im Moment are the quivalents to simple present. To fully express present progressive in German a

  • present and a future form or
  • condition or
  • semantical context

is/are required. For example: Ich gehe bis Ich dort bin (I'll walk until i'm there) or Ich komme aus dem Denken nicht heraus (I can't stop thinking)


ad 1) I am not sure what you mean by origin, but a thinking man and ein denkender Mensch mean the same thing, the words have the same function there.

ad 2) No.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.