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A variant of the progressive form is called am-progressive in German grammar . Instead of, for example, “I am currently working”, the construction “I am working” is used in some dialects to express the duration of the action, the progressive . The most common standard language form is “I am working”, but the form “I am working” is also increasingly used in standard language.

The progressive with “am” is mainly known in the Rhenish language and other West German dialects. It is therefore also referred to as the Rhenish course form , Ruhrpott course form or Westphalian course form. Such classifications are, however, misleading, as this sentence construction can be proven in the entire West German-speaking area up to Switzerland .


This form is in its forming region not only from traditional dialect speakers used, but is also in the standard German oriented vernacular consistently. Extreme and modified forms, such as "Once the child starts walking ..." (does not necessarily mean, but potentially expresses a course) or "I'm just writing a letter" are mainly in Ruhr German and less otherwise to be found in the West German-speaking area.

In the course of time, the use of the simple progressive form has also expanded to the colloquial language of other parts of the German-speaking area. According to the Duden , it is now "already partially regarded as a standard language".

The expanded form in the form of sentence brackets has remained in the areas with the associated dialects. A sentence like "I can't get the phone, I'm just fixing the lawnmower" would be extremely unusual in Saxony or Austria . In the Ruhr area or in Switzerland, however, such a sentence construction is common and is also often used.

The Ripuarian languages and some East Limburg languages have a further course form, which is formed with "do" + infinitive , like the English reinforcements, but deviates from these in the meaning. In Kölsch one says, for example, “Dä deijt do wunne” (literally: He does live there ) to express that someone lives there permanently and for sure. In contrast, "Dä eß do am Wunne" (literally: He is living there ) would mean that he only lives there temporarily, for a certain manageable period of time, for example for a vacation. This form can also be found in the colloquial language of the high-level language, but it is much rarer and more regionally limited than the first form.

A construction similar to the am-progressive also exists in Dutch ( aan het + verb) and is generally accepted there.

Writing dispute

The question of the spelling of the uninflected verb component of the am progressive (“I am working / working ”) is currently still controversial. In its current edition, the Duden mentions the form rather casually and sees the "verb" as a traditional, substantiated infinitive analogous to "Tomorrow is (the) swimming " (instead of: the swimming lessons).

The Germanist Gabriella Gárgyán, on the other hand, introduces the concept of the progressive verb as a new verb class in her dissertation presented in 2010 , since the verb is functionally different from the indicative, and advocates lowercase letters.

Alternatively, there is the view that am is part of a fourth verb status next to infinitive, to-infinitive and past participle; the on-infinitive is only to be governed. (Gallmann 2014)

On the basis of Internet evidence it can also be shown that the lower case of the infinite verb is generally accepted.

In this respect, the unflected verb component of the am-progressive must be capitalized according to the currently applicable Duden spelling. From a linguistic point of view, however, there are arguments in favor of classifying the verb component as a “real” verb, so that, as a result of further research and grammaticalization of the form in the language, lowercase letters may be established as the rule.


  • Olaf Krause: Progressive in German. An empirical study in contrast to Dutch and English. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2002.
  • Gisela Zifonun, Ludger Hoffmann, Bruno Strecker et al. (Mannheim Institute for German Language): Grammar of the German language. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1997, pp. 1877–1880.
  • Duden. The grammar. From 7th edition 2006, margin no. 594 especially p. 434 (progressive form, progressive construction)
  • Gabriella Gárgyán: The am-progressive in today's German. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2014.
  • Jeroen van Pottelberge: The am-Progressive: Structure and parallel development in the continental West Germanic languages. Narr, Tübingen 2004.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Duden - Correct and good German dictionary of the linguistic cases of doubt 6th, completely revised edition, Bibliographisches Institut & FA Brockhaus AG, Mannheim 2007
  2. Duden Vol. 9, 6th edition 2007, p. 62, 7th edition 2011, p. 66
  3. Duden grammar 8th edition 2009, para. 594 p. 427
  4. Gabriella Gárgyán: The Progressive in today's German. Frankfurt: Peter Lang Edition 2014, p. 56
  5. ^ Rödel, Michael: Verbal function and verbal appearance - the German course form and its components. In: Mutterssprach 3/2004, 220-233, quoted from Gárgyán