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.

intermediate
"Present Participles" in the English Grammar

What Is a Present Participle?

Present participles are verb forms that end in '-ing' and are used to describe ongoing or continuous actions. They are also used in various grammatical constructions such as progressive verb tenses, gerunds, and participial phrases. Present participles can also function as adjectives, modifying nouns or pronouns, or they can be used in reduced relative clauses, where they modify the subject of the sentence.

Present Participle: From

To form a present participle, it's important to consider the type of verb being used. As you may already know, there are regular and irregular verbs in English. Present participles are regular verbs and they are formed simply by adding '-ing' to the base form of the verb.
Take a look at some examples:

Sleep → Sleeping

Wait → Waiting

Now pay attention to their use in sentences:

They were sleeping when I got there.

He was waiting for more than an hour.

Spelling Rules

Sometimes, to form present participles, simply adding '-ing' is not enough and the verb will require other changes. Here we will discuss the rules:

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

Stop → Stopping

Run → Running

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

Open → Opening

  • If the verb ends in '-ie', replace the 'ie' with '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

Present participles can serve various functions, including the following:

1. Present Participles in Continuous Tenses

In the table below you can see all the continuous tenses that are formed using present participles. These tenses are used to describe ongoing actions and events. These actions and events may be in the present, past, or 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

Present participles can serve as adjectives in sentences. As adjectives, they can describe nouns. Take a look at some examples:

To interest → Interesting

To tire → Tiring

Pay attention to their use in sentences:

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

Participle phrases are phrases that have a participle at the beginning, followed by a modifier, an object, or a complement. The entire phrase tends to act as an adjective, modifying nouns or pronouns. The present participle phrase describes 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

Participle clauses are independent clauses that use the participle form of a verb. Mainly, they are used to shorten the main clause. Participle clauses tend to indicate 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.

Review

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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