Present Participles

Present participles are one of the key features of English language. It is a form of verb that ends in '-ing.' In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

"Present Participles" in the English Grammar

What Is a Present Participle?

If you have not heard of this name before you probably used it many times and did not even notice it. The present participle is part of the four 'principal parts of verbs.'

How Do We Form a Present Participle?

To create a present participle we need to pay attention to the type of our verb. We are already familiar with the concept of regular and irregular verbs. Present participles are completely regular. Simply add '-ing' to the base form of the main verb. Take a look at some examples:

Sleep → Sleeping

Wait → Waiting

Now that you know how they are created, look at the following examples to see them in action.

They were sleeping when I got there.

He was waiting for more than an hour.

Spelling Rules

You know how to create and use present participle in a sentence but do you know the rules and regulations to spell it? Because sometimes simply adding -ing is not enough. Here we will discuss the rules:

  • If the verb ends in consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter.

Stop → Stopping

Run → Running

  • If the verb ends in consonant + unstressed vowel + consonant, (the base verb is not stressed) do not double the last letter.

Open → Opening

  • If the verb ends in 'ie,' change the 'ie' to 'y.'

Lie → Lying

Die → Dying

  • If the verb ends in vowel + consonant + 'e,' omit the 'e.'

Come → Coming

Mistake → Mistaking

Present Participle: Uses

using the present participle to make a participle clause

There are several cases in which we use present participles which are as followed:

1. Present Participles in Continuous Tenses

Look at the table below, you can see all the continuous tenses that are used with present participles. In these tenses, we try describe ongoing actions and events. These actions and event may be in the present, past, or the future.

Tenses Examples
Present Continuous You are studying English grammar.
Past Continuous I was working when it all happened.
Present Perfect Continuous I'm tired because I've been running.
Past Perfect Continuous Kaz was exhausted. He had been running.
Future Continuous I'll be waiting for you.
Future Perfect Continuous I will have been waiting for two hours.

2. Present Participles as Adjectives

We know adjectives in general but the fun fact about present participles is that they can become adjectives. Now, as adjectives, they can describe nouns. Take a look at some examples:

To interest → Interesting

To tire → Tiring

Let us see them in action:

I was trying to make things interesting.

He tries his best but his tiring job won't give him a rest.

3. Present Participles in Participle Phrases

Before we talk about how present participle as a participle phrase works, let us discuss 'participle phrases.' Basically these phrases have a participle at the beginning and are followed by a modifier, an object, or a complement. The entire phrase tends to act as an adjective. This way, they can modify nouns or pronouns. What present participle phrase does is to describe a situation that is occurring at the same time as the main action. Pay attention that the tense of the rest of the sentence does not matter.

Shaking with excitement, I boarded the plane.

Sitting in the yard, the old woman watched the world pass by.

4. Present Participles in Participle Clauses

The first question that rises to the surface when we see the name 'participle clauses' is 'what is it anyway? Participle clauses are independent clauses which use a participle form of a verb. Mainly, they are used to shorten the main clause. Participle clauses tend to show time, reasons, and situations. Take a look at some examples:

I lost my phone (while) walking back from work.

He walked out (as he was) whistling to himself.


The present participle is actually a bare infinitive followed by 'ing.' This form of the verb can be used for:

  1. Making continuous tenses
  2. Making -ing adjectives
  3. Making participle clauses
  4. Making participle phrases


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