Lesson 21 – Present Participle

Leçon 21 – Present Participle of Verbs

The French present participle corresponds to the English -ing form of a verb. (running, sleeping, leaving, etc.)

The present participle of most verbs is formed by dropping the –ons form of the present tense nous form and adding -ant.

  • parler → parlons → parlant
  • finir → finissons → finissant
  • rendre → rendons → rendant
  • lire → lisons → lisant
  • prendre → prenons → prenant
  • écrire → écrivons → écrivant

Irregular verbs

Luckily, there are only three irregular verbs for the present participle!

  • avoir → ayant
  • être → étant
  • savoir → sachant

The present participle can be used as an adjective or a verb. When used as an adjective, a present participle usually follows the noun or pronoun it modifies and agrees with it in gender and number.

  • de l’eau courante (courir) → running water
  • les numéros gagnants (gagner) → the winning numbers
  • des histoires touchantes (toucher) → touching stories

When used as a verb, the present participle often follows the preposition en.

En + present participle may express an action that is happening at the same time as the action of the main verb.

  • Ici on ne parle pas en travaillant→ Here people don’t talk while working.
  • En entrant dans la bibliothèque, j’ai vu mon amie Caroline. → Upon entering the library, I saw my friend Caroline.

It may also express how or why something is done.

  • J’ai fait des progrès en français en lisant beaucoup. → I made progress in French by reading a lot.

The present participle may be used without en.

  • Ayant peur d’arriver en retard, j’ai partie de très bonne heure. → Being afraid to arrive late, I left early.

The present participle may be used instead of a relative clause. In this case it is invariable. This construction is typical of formal speech and writing.

  • les trais venant de Lyon → trains coming from Lyon
  • des employés parlant anglais → employees speaking English
  • une voiture montant le boulevard → a car going up the boulevard


See you later this week, dear readers!

A bientôt !



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