French/Grammar/Verbs/Present participle

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Formation[edit]

Replace the -ons ending of a verb conjugated in the first person plural in the present indicative with -ant. There are three verbs with the present participle forming irregularly: avoir, être, and savoir.

Grammar
Present Participle Formation · Formation De Participe Présent
Regular Formation
infinitive Nous form of the
present indicative
Stem Ending Present
Participle
parler nous parlons parl ant parlant
finir nous finissons finiss finissant
attendre nous attendons attend attendant
prendre nous prenons pren prenant
Irregular Formation
avoir ayant
être étant
savoir sachant

Forms and Usage Summary[edit]

Grammar
Present Participle Usage · Utilisation De Participe Présent
Form Formation Formation Example Usage Usage Detail
Simple Present Participle [present participle] étant - being
disant - saying
cause
reason
expresses the reason why something
has occurred
Composed Present Participle [étant or ayant] + [past participle] ayant fini - having finished
étant allé(e)(s) - having gone
anteriority expresses that one action occurred
before the action of the main verb
Le gérondif en + [present participle] en chantant - while singing
en courant - while running
simultinaity expresses that one action is occurring
at the same time as a second
  • NOTE: The present progressive tense does not exist in French. The present indicative is used instead.
    • To say I am going., you would say Je vais. You would NOT say Je suis allant.

Simple Present Participle Usage[edit]

The present participle is used to express the reason why something has occurred.

  • La table étant trop lourde, ils ne pouvaient pas le soulever. - The table being too heavy, they were not able to lift it.

Composed Present Participle[edit]

Formation[edit]

To form the composed present participle, conjugate être or avoir in the present participle (étant and ayant) and add the past participle.

  • ayant parlé - having spoken
  • étant allé(e)(s) - having gone.

Note that both avoir and être translate to having in English. This is the same in all composed tenses.

The past participle may have an -e or -s added in order to agree with other parts of the sentence. All standard agreement rules that composed tenses follow apply to the composed present participle as well.

Usage[edit]

The composed present participle is used to express that one action occurred before the action of the main verb

  • Ayant fini, je suis parti(e). - Having finished, I left.
  • Je suis parti(e) ayant entendu la fille. - I left having heard the girl.

The composed present participle is not used after a preposition. To express a similar idea using a preposition, the past infinitive is used.

  • Je suis parti(e) sans avoir entendu la fille. - I left without having heard the girl.
  • Je suis parti(e) après avoir entendu la fille. - I left after having heard the girl.

Le gérondif[edit]

Formation[edit]

en + present participle

  • en chantant - (while) singing
  • en courant - (while) running

Usage[edit]

Le gérondif is used to express that one action is occurring at the same time as a second.

  • Ils se sont promenés en chantant. - They walked while singing.
  • Elle est arrivée en courant. - She arrived running.