CHAPTER 21 – Definition – Present participle – Participle présent

The present participle in French is a verb form that ends in -ant. 

The French use this form far less than the corresponding -ing verb form.

In French, we use the participe présent in the following cases:

  • 1) (as a verb) to modify a noun: “Jouant avec une poupée, une enfant chantonnait une belle comptine” Playing with a doll, a child was singing a nice counting rhyme.

  • 2) (as a gerund – le gérondif – preceded by the preposition en) to express an action that is related to the main verb : “Je fais la cuisine en écoutant de la musique” I cook while listening to music.

Do not confuse a verbal adjective (adjectif verbal) for a present participle. Verbal adjectives are, like all French adjectives, variable in gender and number, while present participles aren’t. Compare the following:

Courant dans le mauvais sens, l’enfant renversa une table.” Running in the  wrong direction, the child knocked a table over. (present participle)

Il y a de l’eau courante dans la maison. There is running water in the house. (verbal adjective)