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19.8 Present Participle
Language & Culture Lessons
Bonjour ! Content de vous revoir. Last time we met, we were looking at « si » clauses, also known as 'if …then…' clauses.
They may have seemed a little tricky, but they're super handy for forming phrases like "I would have gone to the movies,
if I had time", or "If I won lotto, I would go to Disneyland!" And let's face it, we use 'if' and "would" all the time when we
speak English.
On to today's topic… in English, we use verbs ending in –ing to talk about something that is currently happening. For
example "running late, smoking, singing, writing, doing…" When we add this –ing ending, we're actually forming the
'present participle' of the verb. Today I'm going to show you how to do this in French!
Language Lesson
Present Participle
-ant instead of -ing
In English, adding – ing is pretty simple right? Well the good news is that it's pretty simple in French too, we just use
an – ant ending for all regular and irregular verbs.
Attention! There are actually three irregular verbs that are different, but we'll come to them later.
How do we form the present participle?
The way we form the French present participle is by taking the original verb in its nous form of the present, and
adding -ant. Let's see how this works:
If we take the verb finir, and put it in the present with nous and we have nous finissons. We remove the ons part
and add ant. Voilà: finissant is the present participle form of finir.
Here are a few more examples:
Nous form
Present participle
To walk
Nous marchons
To eat
Nous mangeons
To write
Nous écrivons
To jump
Nous sautons
En marchant sur la plage
While walking on the beach
Ne parle pas en mangeant
Don't speak while eating
Je me suis fait mal en sautant sur le lit
I hurt myself jumping on the bed
Facile ! Now it's your turn – grab a piece of paper and write down the present participle form of these verbs:
Nous form
to work
Nous travaillons
to finish
Nous finissons
to go down
Nous descendons
to depart
Nous partons
Here are the answers:
Present participle
Nous form
Present participle
Nous travaillons
Nous finissons
Nous descendons
Nous partons
Tu auras du succès en travaillant dur
By working hard, you will be successful
J'ai vu Sophie en descendant au marché
I saw Sophie while heading down to the market
Ferme la porte en partant s'il te plaȋt
Close the door when leaving please
Those Three Exceptions
Someone always has to bend the rules! In the case of present participles, it's the verbs être, avoir and savoir. These
three outcasts have different forms to learn:
Present participle
to be
to have
to know
Etant comme tu es, cela ne m'étonne pas
Being like you are, I am not surprised
Sachant ce que je sais maintenant, je ne veux plus le voir Knowing what I know now, I don't want to see him
Ayant fait mes devoirs, je suis allée courir
Having done my homework, I went for a run
Easy to make, slightly trickier to use…
As you now know, it's very easy to form the present participle but the way in which you use them in a sentence can
be a bit more problematic.
The present participle cannot be used…
To express the English progressive ("to be" + present participle)
In English we say: “I am reading my book”.
In French we say: « Je lis mon livre » literally "I read my book".
Difficulty: The English phrase expresses something called the 'progressive' form of "to be" (reading) + present
participle. There is no such form in French, therefore we must use the present.
To replace an English gerund (noun ending in – ing)
These examples show some correct ways to replace an English gerund:
La lecture est fantastique
Reading is fantastic
Fumer est dangereux pour la santé
Smoking is dangerous for your health
Cela vous dérange que je parle ?
Do you mind my talking?
To express an infinitive clause in French
In English we use a present participle: He spends his time reading comics.
In French we use an infinitive clause: « Il passe son temps à lire des BD » : literally he spends his time “to read”
C'est tout pour aujourd'hui !
Interactions with the family are shared during meals where you might talk about what you have done or what you
will do. It will be mainly during breakfast and dinner time as most children stay at school for lunch time.
Conversations are prioritized as the family sits down to eat and the TV is turned off.
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