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How to Use the Present Participle for English

Updated: Jan 10

The Present Participle –ing (English Language)

Explanation

A present participle is a verb form (or verbal) which is made by adding -ing to the base. It is a participle that always ends in ing. In English language, it is generally used with the auxiliary verb 'to be' to form the continuous tense. The present participle always takes the ‘ing’ form of the verb. As a general rule, all English words that end with ‘ing’ are present participles.

E.g.:

  • I am learning Math

In this example, Learning is part of the continuous verb phrase 'am learning'

  • We were running through the lanes.

In this example, Running is part of the continuous verb phrase 'were running'.

The present Participle can also be used as an adjective.

E.g.:

  • I am a working woman.

In this example, Working is used as an adjective.





All grammar rules for forming the Present Participle

The present participle of most verbs has the form base + ing. However, it is used in many different ways as discussed below-

a) The present participle used as a part of continuous form of verb

E.g.:

  • I am working today

  • He was singing song

  • We will be staying for 2 days

b) The present participle used after verbs of movements & positions

E.g.:

  • Joe went shopping

  • He lay looking up at the clouds

c) The present participle used as an Adjective

E.g.:

  • It was an amazing day.

  • Dark billowing clouds often precede a storm.


All situations the present participle is used in

  1. The present participle used after verbs of perception. The usual pattern for this usage is

Verb object present participle

E.g.:

I heard someone shouting

I can smell something burning

  1. The present participle used with the words-spend and waste. The usual pattern for this usage is

Verb time/money expression present participle

E.g.:

  • Don't waste time playing games all day

  • They've spent the whole day shopping


  1. The present participle used for two actions happening at same time. When two actions occur at the same time and they are done by the same person or thing, the rule is to use present participle to describe one of them

E.g.:

  • They went laughing out into the rain.

Meaning-They laughed as they went out into the rain


  1. The present participle used to explain a reason

E.g.:

  • Feeling starved, he went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.

  • Being poor, he didn't spend much on movies.


Important Note: Present Participle should not be confused with Gerund as both ends in ing.

A gerund functions as a noun-

  • e.g.: Laughing is good for you.

Whereas a present participle functions as an adjective

  • e.g.: The old laughing lady dropped by to call










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