Present participle – participe présent


Let's Define It!

What's a *present participle*?

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 gerundle 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)


Let's Pronounce It!

What does it sound like in French?


Let's Have an Example or Two!

Can a little reinforcement do the trick?

Here are a few French sentence as examples containing a present participle. They are underlined for your convenience.

  • Bavardant sans cesse, elle n'a rien compris aux explications du prof. / Talking non stop, she didn't understand anything in the teacher's explanations. 

  • Le bébé, se lèchant les doigts, gloussait. The  baby, licking his fingers, was giggling.

  • Voyant sa drôle de tête, je me suis mis à rire. Upon seeing his funny face, I burst out laughing. 


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