I'm self studying German these days and learning grammar too.
In the sentence below, what's the grammatical form of pfeifend?
Is it something like present/past participle usage in English?
(like whistling as in Whistling his favorite song, He went along the street)

    Sie lachten beide zusammen und beobachteten, wie der Mann wieder glücklich pfeifend den Weg entlang ging.
    They both laughed together and watched the man whistling happily back down the path.
  • "pfeifend" = "whistling". "The man went, happily whistling again, along the path". Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


Pfeifend is the participle of pfeifen, that's true.

The participle describes the action of somebody while not addressing him directly like you would do in English.

And here's another style thing with your sentence: Although it's not incorrect to write Sie lachten beide zusammen, I wouldn't recommend it. Sie lachten zusammen or Sie lachten beide works just fine. To a native German-speaker, it sounds awkward if you use beide and zusammen in the same context.

  • 5
    Does it sound awkward if you use beide zusammen? Don't think so. Think about "Sie fuhren beide mit dem Auto weg" vs. "Sie fuhren beide zusammen mit dem Auto weg"
    – tofro
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 11:09
  • 1
    Zum Thema beide versus die beiden oder beide zusammen siehe isabelbogdan.de/2012/02/17/…. Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 14:28

You were close. "Pfeifend" is "Partizip Präsens" (present participle) of "pfeifen". In general, you obtain the "Partizip Präsens" by adding a "d" to the infinitive. As in English, you can use it like an adjective or an adverb. Note that you cannot use the "Partizip Präsens" like a "gerund" in German. In your example, "Pfeifend" is used as an adverb. Your translation misses a translation of the word "ging". I see no way to keep the "adverb" character of the participle and would say:

"... whistling happily and going back down the path. "

  • 1
    The two exceptions for building the Partizip Präsens are seinseiend and tuntuend.
    – Janka
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:22
  • thanks, that helps. and I was aware the translation whistle down (a road) includes the meaning of gehn. (I selected the other answer just because it was the first. sorry for that..)
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 1:21

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