I was looking to translate the following sentence, which describes a state, then lists several actions that are carried out:

Exhausted from her perilous flight, she sheds her wings, …

I got to:

Ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug, sie wirft ihre Flügel ab, …

Then my grammar senses started tingling. I’ve googled to the moon and back, and checked in a couple of grammar books but can’t be sure what to look for: should the sie wirft be wirft sie?

My gut says yes, but I’m still not sure. What grammar rule does this fall under? I've come to believe this is because of the verb-in-second position rule, and that, because it is closed by a comma, “Ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug” effectively takes up the first position.


2 Answers 2


Yes, you need to write wirft sie.

If you deconstruct the sentence, you will realise that durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug is superfluous and we could shorten it to:

Ermüdet wirft sie ihre Flügel ab, …

And then we realise that ermüdet is nothing more than a participle which functions as an adverb here and can be moved around like anything else:

Sie wirft ermüdet ihre Flügel ab, …

Sie wirft ihre Flügel ermüdet ab, …

Since the extended participle ermüdet … occupies the first position, the finite verb must be in second.

By the way, it is not necessary to add a comma between Flug and wirft. The comma would only be mandatory if the participle construction is inserted or appended to the main clause as per § 77 (7) of the official German orthographic rules. Thus:

Sie wirft, ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug, ihre Flügel ab, …

Sie wirft ihre Flügel ab, ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug, …

The comma is optional for preceding participles as per § 78 (3):

Ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug(,) wirft sie ihre Flügel ab, …

Leaving out the comma makes it clearer that we are dealing with a single sentence and the verb is required to be put before sie. But beware: Even if we extend the participle into a subordinate clause (which has an obligatory comma after it), the main clause’s verb must come next:

Weil sie durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug ermüdet ist, wirft sie ihre Flügel ab, …


It should be wirft sie: This puts the verb in second position as it should be, if you regard the phrase Ermüdet durch ihren gefahrvollen Flug as one part of speech.

  • Thanks Martin, when Stephie commented on my post to say that I was right, this was the justification I began to take on board. Glad to have it confirmed.
    – Matt
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:55
  • @Matt Great, I saw your comment one second after I posted my answer. Dec 3, 2015 at 14:56

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