Present Participles

Introduction to Present Participles

In English grammar, a present participle is simply a verb form that ends with '-ing'. It is used to indicate actions that are taking place now or continuous actions. It is also used in creating continuous verb tenses. However, its usage is not confined to these areas alone. Present participles can be used in several different manners, which we will explore throughout this tutorial.

Formation of Present Participles

Creating the present participle form of a verb is generally straightforward. You simply add '-ing' to the base verb. For example, the present participle of 'run' becomes 'running', while 'eat' becomes 'eating'.

However, there are some exceptions which must be noted:

  • If a verb ends in 'e', you drop the 'e' and add 'ing'. For instance, 'take' becomes 'taking', and 'drive' becomes 'driving'.
  • For verbs ending with a vowel followed by a consonant (except 'w', 'x', and 'y'), you typically double the final consonant before adding 'ing'. For example, 'swim' becomes 'swimming', and 'stop' becomes 'stopping'.
  • Uses of Present Participles

    1. Continuous Tenses

    The most common use of present participles is to form continuous (or progressive) tenses. In this case, they are used in combination with a form of the auxiliary verb 'to be'. Here are some examples:

  • She is playing tennis. (Present Continuous)
  • They were watching the movie. (Past Continuous)
  • I will be travelling to New York. (Future Continuous)
  • 2. Adjectives

    Present participles can also be used as adjectives to describe a noun. In this case, the present participle indicates the characteristic or state of the noun. For instance:

  • The running water was cold.
  • I need a working pen.
  • 3. Adverbs

    When used as an adverb, a present participle modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb to provide more information about the action or occurrence. Here are some examples:

  • She lives nearby, walking to work every day.
  • He read the book, making notes along the way.
  • 4. Participle Phrases

    Participle phrases begin with a present participle and include other modifiers or objects. They are used to add more information about a noun or noun phrase in a sentence. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Walking along the beach, Maria found a seashell.
  • Playing her favorite song, she began to dance.
  • 5. Reduction of Relative Clauses

    Another usage of present participles is to reduce relative clauses in order to make the sentence more succinct. Here are some examples:

  • The boy who is wearing a red shirt is my brother. can be reduced to The boy wearing a red shirt is my brother.
  • The people who were attending the conference are leading experts in their field. can be shortened to The people attending the conference are leading experts in their field.
  • Some Common Mistakes

    Although present participles are quite straightforward, there are a couple of common mistakes that you should be aware of:

  • Confusing present participles with gerunds: Both end in '-ing' but they have different roles. A present participle is used as part of a verb tense or as an adjective, while a gerund is used as a noun.
  • Forgetting to use helper verbs: When using present participles to form verb tenses, don't forget to include the appropriate form of 'to be'.
  • Conclusion

    Present participles are incredibly useful in English grammar, offering a way to form verb tenses, adjectives, adverbs, or to form participle phrases. With practice, you will easily grasp the rules and exceptions and feel more confident in your grammar skills.

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