How to Use the Present Participle for English
Updated: Jan 10
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.
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.
I am a working woman.
In this example, Working is used as an adjective.
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
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
Joe went shopping
He lay looking up at the clouds
c) The present participle used as an Adjective
It was an amazing day.
Dark billowing clouds often precede a storm.
The present participle used after verbs of perception. The usual pattern for this usage is
Verb object present participle
I heard someone shouting
I can smell something burning
The present participle used with the words-spend and waste. The usual pattern for this usage is
Verb time/money expression present participle
Don't waste time playing games all day
They've spent the whole day shopping
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
They went laughing out into the rain.
Meaning-They laughed as they went out into the rain
The present participle used to explain a reason
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