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Present Participle

Present Participle

In English grammar, a participle is a verb form that contains the features of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used alongside an auxiliary (helping) verb to express different tenses, used as an adjective to modify a noun, or used to create the passive voice. There are three different participles; past participle, present participle, and perfect participle. Today, we will learn all about present partciples.

Present Participle Definition

A present participle is a verb form used to express an active action. Present participles always end with the suffix "ing." In a sentence, they can function as either a verb or an adjective.

Present participles can be used as a verb to form continuous tenses (tenses that show an ongoing event that was, is, or will be in progress) or as an adjective to modify a noun. For example:

"She's running with her brother."

In this sentence, the present participle "running" has been formed from the verb "run." It is used as a verb to express the present continuous tense.

"She puts on her running shoes."

In this sentence, the present participle "running" is used as an adjective to describe the noun (shoes).

Present Participle Two people running StudySmarterFig. 1 - The verb "running" is a present participle that can be used as a verb or adjective.

Present Participle Tense

The present participle can be used alongside the different forms of the auxiliary verb "to be" to create continuous/progressive tenses. The different continuous tenses are:

  • Present continuous

  • Present perfect continuous

  • Past continuous

  • Past perfect continuous

  • Future continuous

  • Future perfect continuous

Let's see how the present participle can be used to create each of these tenses:

Present Continuous Tense

The present continuous tense is formed by using the present tense form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (is/am/are) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when speaking about something occurring presently and may also continue in the future. For example:

"I am baking a cake."

Here, the present participle is "baking."

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense is formed by using the present perfect form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (have/has been) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when discussing something that began in the past and is still continuing in the present. For example:

"I have been studying all day."

Here, the present participle is "studying."

Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is formed by using the past tense form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (was/were) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when referring to something that was occurring at some moment in the past and may or may not have continued into the present.

"He was holding a baseball bat."

Here, the present participle is "holding."

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The past perfect continuous tense is formed by using the past perfect form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (had been) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when talking about an event that began in the past and also ended at some other point in the past.

"She had been working as a hairdresser until last week."

Here, the present participle is "working."

Future Continuous Tense

The future continuous tense is formed by using the future tense form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (will be) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when speaking about an ongoing action that will happen at some point in the future. For example:

"I will be waiting for my friends at the train station."

Here, the present participle is "waiting."

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense is formed by using the future perfect form of the auxiliary verb "to be" (will have been) and the present participle of the main verb. It is used when speaking about an event that will occur up until a certain point in the future. For example:

"In August, I will have been living abroad for 3 years."

Here, the present participle is "living."

Present Participle Examples

Check out some more examples of present particles below:

Example sentencePresent participleFunction in the sentence
The baby is crawling now.CrawlingVerb
The crying child was too loud.CryingAdjective
She has been living at her parents' house.LivingVerb
Her beaming smile could light up a room.BeamingAdjective
We were laughing for hours.LaughingVerb
I have many embarrassing stories to tell.EmbarrassingAdjective
He had been wanting a new car for a while.WantingVerb
The students thought the teacher was boring.BoringAdjective
I will be attending the work event.AttendingVerb
I think nature documentaries are very interesting.InterestingAdjective
He will have been playing the guitar at the music festival.PlayingVerb
Horror movies aren't always terrifying.TerrifyingAdjective

Present Participle Phrase

A present participle phrase is a phrase that contains a present participle and other modifiers. It can be used to modify the noun or verb in a sentence, or the whole sentence.

In case you need reminding, a phrase is a group of words forming a meaningful unit that can be used to construct clauses in a sentence. Phrases do not need to contain

For example:

Present Participle Example of present participle phrase StudySmarterFig. 2 - A present participle phrase must always include a present participle.

In this example, the present participle is "giggling," and its modifiers are "with excitement."

Present Participle Vs. Gerund

Both the present participle and gerunds are verb forms that end with the suffix "ing." Because of this, they are often mistaken for one another. However, they both have different functions in a sentence.

A gerund is a verb form ending in "ing" that functions as a noun in a sentence. For example:

Take the sentence, "painting is a fun hobby."

Here, the gerund is "painting," which has been formed from the verb "paint" and functions as the noun in the sentence.

On the other hand, a present participle ends in "ing" and functions as a verb or adjective in a sentence. For example:

Take the sentence, "she is drawing a picture."

Here, the present participle is "drawing." It has been formed from the verb "draw" and is used as a verb in the sentence to express the present continuous tense.

Another example is, "I walked past a burning building this morning."

In this case, the present participle is "burning" and has been used as an adjective to describe the state of the noun.

Present Participle - Key takeaways

  • A present participle is a verb form ending in the suffix "ing" that functions as either a verb or an adjective in a sentence.
  • A present participle can be used as a verb to form continuous tenses or as an adjective to modify a noun.
  • The different continuous tenses that use present participles are:
    • present continuous
    • present perfect continuous
    • past continuous
    • past perfect continuous
    • future continuous
    • future perfect continuous
  • A present participle phrase is a phrase that contains a present participle and other modifiers. It is used to modify the noun or verb in a sentence, or the whole sentence.

  • Both present participles and gerunds are verb forms that end with the suffix "ing." However, the present participle functions as a verb or adjective in a sentence, whereas a gerund functions as a noun.

Frequently Asked Questions about Present Participle

Take the sentence "Gary is building a house on his own." The present participle is "building", which has been formed from the verb "build" and is used as a verb in the sentence to express the present continuous tense.

A present continuous verb is a verb that ends in "ing" and is used to express the continuous tense.

To form the present participle, you have to add "ing" to the base form of a verb.

The present participle is used as a verb to express continuous tenses. It can also be used as an adjective to modify a noun.

The present participle ends in the suffix "ing" and is formed from a verb.

A present participle functions as a verb or adjective in a sentence, whereas a gerund functions as a noun.

Final Present Participle Quiz

Question

The present participle ends in...

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Answer

ed

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Question

How many continuous tenses are there?

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Answer

6

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Question

What is a present participle?

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Answer

A present participle is a verb form ending in the suffix "ing" that functions as either a verb or an adjective in a sentence.

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Question

A present participle can function as either a verb or what?

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Answer

adjective

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Question

When a present participle functions as a verb, it can be used to express what?

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Answer

continuous tenses

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Question

What is a present participle phrase?

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Answer

A present participle phrase is a phrase that contains a present participle and other modifiers. 

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Question

What can a present participle phrase modify?

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Answer

A noun, verb, or a whole sentence

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Question

In the following sentence, does the present participle function as a verb or adjective?


"She was laughing at my jokes."

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Answer

verb

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Question

In the following sentence, does the present participle function as a verb or adjective?


"The lecture was confusing."

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Answer

adjective

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Question

True or false?


Both present participles and gerunds end in "ing."

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Answer

True

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Question

What is the difference between present participles and gerunds?

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Answer

Present participles function as verbs or adjectives in a sentence, whereas gerunds function as nouns.

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Question

What do gerunds function as in a sentence?

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Answer

noun

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Question

Fill in the blank:


A present participle is a ____ form.

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Answer

verb

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Question

How do you form a present participle?

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Answer

Add the suffix "ing" to the end of a verb.

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Question

When a present participle functions as an adjective, what does it modify in a sentence?

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Answer

the noun

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