The "ing" form - Die Verlaufsform im Deutschen


How do you translate the "Verlaufsform" into German? Thanks for your efforts and advice.
Please translate all of these sentences into German, so I can see the difference.

The rain leaked in large drops through the roof.
The rain was leaking in large drops through the roof.

He watched her like a hawk.
He was watching her like a hawk.
  • Kajjo

    Senior Member
    It is a wrong idea to translate grammatical features of one language into the other. The German features no continuous tense and before learning English I never ever thought about such a construct.

    There are two main principles to emphasise ongoing actions. You may add adverbs like "gerade" or you may build nominal phrases with "bei" or "am":

    He is eating.
    Er isst gerade. <idiomatic>
    Er ist beim Essen. <idiomatic>
    Er ist am Essen.

    It is raining.
    Es regnet gerade.
    Es ist am Regnen. <idiomatic>

    However, in many cases the continuous form is not explicitly expressed but understood implicitly due to the meaning. In your two example we would usually not express the continuous tense:

    The rain leaked through the roof.
    The rain was leaking through the roof.
    Der Regen tropfte durch das Dach. <both>

    He watched her like a hawk.
    He was watching her like a hawk.
    Er sah sie an wie ein Falke. <both>

    Please note that in real life the context provides more clues to the continuous meaning than the short example sentences above. Main clauses often introduce ongoing or lasting actions or simultanity of two actions:

    Er sah zu, wie der Regen von der Decke tropfte.
    Er war gerade dabei, die Urlaubsreise zu planen.
    Während sie ihr Baby stillte, blätterte sie nebenher eine Zeitschrift durch.
    Im Moment esse ich gerade, aber ich kümmere mich gleich darum.
    Noch regnet es, aber sobald es wieder trocken ist, gehe ich raus.
    Last edited:


    Thank you for your detailed explanation. I have a lot to read here and more to learn. The whole thing is partly difficult to understand.
    I hope you'll help me in the future, too.
    See you around!
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