In another question, I asked for the grammaticality of:

Senkenden Hauptes schlief sie langsam ein.

which may be a possible, uncommon abbreviation of

Während sie das Haupt senkte, schlief sie langsam ein.

Here, I am asking what other options one has in German to abbreviate a subordinate clause by use of participle structures. Maybe you give out a terminus for the grammatical structure and a short example?

  • I think it is more an abbreviation of 'Während sich ihr Haupt senkte, schlief sie langsam ein.' When you start sleeping your possibilities to do things actively are very limited.
    – bernd_k
    Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 13:20
  • @bernd you can also take the example Erhobenen Zeigefingers formulierte er seine Drohung. Thats interchangeable and not the main point driving this question...
    – Hauser
    Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


In German it's a bit different, I try to compare my language and yours :-D

In English you can use the participle for this, make two to one:

I saw the girl yesterday. She went down the stairs. ➜ I saw the girl going down the stairs...

  • In German the same could be done by using a Relativsatz or a Infinitivkonstruktion, e.g.:

    Gestern sah ich das Mädchen. Sie ging die Treppe hinunter. ➜ Ich sah das Mädchen die Treppe hinuntergehen.

  • Especially after sensory verbs, you could use different type of subordinate clauses in German:

    Ich sah, wie das Mädchen die Treppe hinunterging.

In addition to that you can use the participle to eliminate subordinate clauses:

As she went to the principal she was angry. ➜ Going to the principal she was angry.

  • In German you can use Partizip I and II:

    Indem sie ein fröhliches Liedchen pfeift, erledigt Yanina ihre Hausaufgaben. ➜ Ein fröhliches Liedchen pfeifend, erledigt Yanina ihre Hausaufgaben. (Partizip I)

    Als wir am Schwerter Bahnhof ankamen, nahmen wir sofort ein Taxi. ➜ Am Schwerter Bahnhof angekommen, nahmen wir sofort in ein Taxi. (Partizip II)

For further reading: Participles Partizip I and II

Some examples from: http://www.english-work.com

  • Oh I see, in an instant it's done :) Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 13:39
  • :)) thx again. I'm totally new here. Next time I'll format it :)) Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 15:10
  • +1 great anwer and self introduction. How did you came upon this site? We need more german women ;)
    – Hauser
    Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 20:04

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