A present participle is a word derived from a verb that can be used as an adjective and to form the continuous verb tenses. It is one of two types of participles, along with past participles.
The present participles of both regular and irregular verbs end in ‘-ing’ (e.g., ‘traveling‘).
How to form present participles
The present participles of most regular and irregular verbs are formed by adding ‘-ing’ to the base form of the verb (e.g., ‘imply‘ becomes ‘implying’).
Using a present participle as an adjective
Present participles can be used as adjectives to modify a noun or pronoun.
A participial phrase is a phrase that begins with a participle and functions as an adjective. Participial phrases are used to modify a noun or pronoun in the main clause of a sentence.
A participial phrase at the start of a sentence should always be followed by a comma. Participial phrases in the middle of a sentence are set off by commas unless they provide essential information.
Present participles and continuous verb tenses
The continuous verb tenses (also called progressive verb tenses) are formed using a conjugated form of the auxiliary verb ‘be’ along with a present participle.
There are three main continuous tenses:
- Past continuous (used to describe an ongoing past event, often interrupted by another event)
- Present continuous (used to describe an event that is currently taking place)
- Future continuous (used to describe an event that will take place over a period of time in the future)
Present participles vs. gerunds
Both present participles and gerunds use the ‘-ing’ form of a verb, but they have different grammatical roles:
- Present participles are used as adjectives and to form the continuous verb tenses.
- Gerunds function only as nouns.
Other interesting language articles
If you want to know more about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and other parts of speech, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations and examples.
Frequently asked question about the present participle
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