From WP I learnt that progressive structures can be translated in German by either beim + INF or am + INF.

How would you characterise the difference (if any) between these two options? I.e., If I say

Ich bin am Lernen

is it the same as saying

Ich bin beim Lernen



1 Answer 1


No. This is not standard German. It came up in western German dialects, spoken along the river Rhein, and therefore is called rheinische Verlaufsform or, because of the usage of the word am to build this progressive form am-Progressiv.

This grammatical feature is spreading across a wide range of Germany, but did not cover the whole Germany (as far as I know it is used very rarely in Saxony), and it did not reach Austria. (But it is used in Switzerland.)

The actual status of this feature is: regional colloquial speech. It is not part of the standardized language, but maybe it will be in the future. (Maybe in 50 or 100 years? Maybe even sooner, or even later. Nobody knows.)

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    Wirklich? Zumindest hier und hier kommt es für mache der untersuchten Verben auch in Österreich vor.
    – Takkat
    Sep 1, 2017 at 18:54
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    Ich bin Frankfurter, ich kenne die Form, habe aber den Verdacht, dass ich das vor allem vom Siegerländer Platt kenne (da kommt mein Vater her). "Ech sinn am ääwe" ("ich bin am Arbeiten") macht für mich gefühlt mehr Sinn im Sejerlänner Platt als im Frankfurter Hessisch ("Isch bin am abbeidde"?). Wenn ich hochdeutsch spreche, vermeide ich das, denn dann klingt es falsch. Meine persönliche Empfehlung daher: im Hochdeutschen vermeiden - und umgangssprachlich "am", nicht "beim". Sep 3, 2017 at 2:04
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    @hartmut there are sometimes (usually minor) grammatical anomalies in dialects, but I think that's true for dialects in all languages. Take for example some English dialects using double negative or "he don't". The fact that it's also referred to as "rheinische Verlaufsform" (from the river Rhine) already suggests it's dialectal. What I find fascinating about it is the similarity to the English progressive form. In German, instead of a progressive form you usually use the simple form + modifier, as in "Ich arbeite gerade" for "I am working". This form however is literally "I am at working". Sep 4, 2017 at 19:23
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    @BlauKakapoW: »Ich war einkaufen.« is an absolutely correct Standard-German construction, but it has nothing to do with continuous or progressive forms. The sentence »Ich war beim Einkaufen.« is only then correct German, if »Einkaufen« is the name of a shop, which is very unlikely. Otherwise it is wrong. (Words with an uppercase first letter are nouns, like names.) Maybe there are some regions, where »Ich war beim einkaufen.« (note the lowercase version indicating a non-noun word, like a verb) is used in colloquial speech. But this is incorrect in Standard German. Feb 21 at 8:51
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    @BlauKakapoW: Whether it is commonly accepted as part of the language or not is exactly what the last paragraph of my answer is about: »The actual status of this feature is: regional colloquial speech. It is not part of the standardized language, but maybe it will be in the future.« Feb 22 at 7:35

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