German has two participles, both of which occur in prenominal position. Traditionally, both participles are considered to be associated with particular semantic and syntactic features. The present participle ( malend ‘painting’) is subject-oriented; it has imperfective aspect and indicates simultaneity of the participle event and the matrix clause event. The past participle ( gemalt ‘painted’) is object-oriented; it has perfective aspect and indicates that the participle event precedes the event of the matrix clause. In this paper, we will first argue that aspect is indeed an inherent – hence invariant – feature of the participle morphology: The present participle always presents an event as ongoing, whereas the past participle presents it as completed. Secondly, we will show that participles – as non-finite verb forms – lack tense. Hence, their temporal properties vary according to lexical, syntactic and pragmatic factors. It will be demonstrated that the unmarked temporal readings of the participles are due to the maxim of relation. Finally, we will argue that the argument selection properties of both participles are grammatically determined; however, these properties can be altered if certain conditions are met.