I am studying the participles of the German language. It is mentioned that we can use both of them as attribute adjectives, but what makes them different as an adjective. Is it related to the meaning of the verb or sentence construction?

This website is the source of my knowledge. The following examples are mentioned as attribute adjectives of present participle and past participle.

Partizip 1:

In einem neben der Kommode stehenden Schirmständer steht ein Schirm = In an umbrella stand standing near the bureau, there’s an umbrella

I am also a little bit confused by the translation of the example. It is difficult for me to find the adjective here.

Partizip 2:

Deshalb lässt sie den zusammengeklappten Schirm dort stehen = That’s why she leaves the folded-up umbrella there.

Thank you so much for reading my question.

2 Answers 2


"Partizip 1" and "Partizip 2" are relatively new names for what i learned in school as "Partizip Präsens" and "Partizip Perfekt". These names explain a lot more, i think.

The Partizip Präsens describes an action currently taking place and acts quite similar to the english present progressive form:

der laufende Bub the running boy

Or, in your first example:

In einem [...] stehendem Schirmständer [...]. In a [...] standing umbrella stand [...].

This example is not well suited to explain the concept because the wordly translation to english makes it sound weird. German (unlike English) uses "stehend" (standing) to describe being located somewhere whereas in proper English does not. One would use "an umbrella stand located at [...]" or maybe "an umbrella stand being [...]. Nevertheless the concept - the umbrella stand is currently located/being at some place - should be clear with this explanation.

The Partizip Präsens indeed acts like an adjective in describing some property of the noun:

der große Wagen - der beschleunigende Wagen (the big car - the accelerating car)

The Partizip Perfekt is used analogous to the past participle: it is used to construct more complex times or modes (Passiv, Perfekt, Plusquamperfekt, Futur Exact, ...) and it can also describe a property of a noun and hence act as an adjective. The difference to the Partizip Präsens is that the action is not currently taking place but static. Consider:

the unfolded umbrella

the unfolding umbrella

The "unfolded" describes a state, the "unfolding" describes an action. The same in german:

die wandernde Person (the hiking person)

die gewanderte Strecke (the hiked distance)

  • 1
    I sincerely appreciate your answer. I am grateful for giving your time. Your answer and @HenningKockerbeck 's answer complete each other and it is very difficult to choose only one post as the answer. The part you mention for stehend not only fixed my confusion but also reminded me that I should change my perspective in studying a new language. Also, your different explanations helped me to better understand particples. Jan 6, 2022 at 19:01
  • Isn't it more about passive vs. active in the examples? stehen is a bad example, as it does not have a meaningful passive. But consider der gekaufte Mann vs der kaufende Mann. I would rather describe the difference in terms of active/passive than in terms of state/action.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Jun 1, 2022 at 16:00
  • The Partizip II is also called "PPP" - Partizip Perfekt Passiv - for a reason. Yes, it is always in passive mood on itself. Still, the fact remains that it describes a state whereas the Partizip Präsens describes an action. The latter is happening whereas the former has happened. In German: Partizip Präsens beschreibt das Vorgehende, Partizip Perfekt das Vorgegangene.
    – bakunin
    Jun 2, 2022 at 7:13

An adjective adds further description to a noun: "A dog" can refer to any dog. "A young dog" can not refer to any dog, but only to a specific subgroup of all dogs, only to a dog with a specific attribute.

But you can not only add a description about what the noun is, but also about what the noun does or has done. "A barking dog" further specifies "a dog" by mentioning the action of the dog. You can do this in German with a Partizip, a participle.

The present participle (Partizip I) refers to something the noun does in the present.

Der bellende Hund rennt den Zaun entlang.
The barking dog runs along the fence.

The dog is presently barking.

The past participle (Partizip II) refers to something the noun has done (or has been done to it) in the past.

Der frisch gebadete Hund wälzt sich im Matsch.
The freshly bathed dog wallows in the mud.

Here, the dog has been bathed in the past.

Regarding your example sentences, in

In einem neben der Kommode stehenden Schirmständer steht ein Schirm.

The umbrella is standing not just in any umbrella stand, but in the umbrella stand that's standing next to the bureau. The umbrella stand is doing the standing right now, in the present, so we need a present participle.

On the other hand, in

Deshalb lässt sie den zusammengeklappten Schirm dort stehen.

the umbrella isn't getting folded up right now, it has been folded up in the past, so we need a past participle.

  • 1
    I appreciate your answer. Thank you so much for spending time in order to answer my question. your answer and @bakunin 's answer complete each other, and it is difficult to choose only one post as the answer. The point you mentioned that the present participle describes present and the other one reflects past cleared the fog in my mind in using participles. Jan 6, 2022 at 18:54

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