Participe Présent in French

Participe Présent in French (Gerund in French)

Most of the words ending in -ant in French.
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I saw Pierre eating a hamburger : J’ai vu Pierre mangeant un hamburger

1 Who, which, that + verb

the children who shout too loudly will be punished
can be : les enfants qui crient trop fort seront punis
but also with the Participe Présent: les enfants criant trop fort seront punis.

tick the box that matches your choice
can be: cochez la case qui correspond à votre choix
but also: cochez la case correspondant à votre choix

We use the participe présent for “I saw Pierre eating a hamburger ”  because the whole sentence is “I saw Pierre  who was eating a hamburger” (who + verb)


When we speak, we prefer to use the expression with “qui” in French as the Participe Présent here is a bit formal. We also use it for general statements or rules!

 2 Participe Présent (Gérondif):

A. by + verb-ing = en + verbe-ant

She improved her French by speaking a lot: elle a amélioré son français en parlant beaucoup
By working fast, I finished earlier: en travaillant vite, j’ai fini plus tôt.

 B. Simultaneous actions

I work while listening to some music: je travaille en écoutant de la musique

C. Because, parce que

When because is suggested but not written, we use the participe présent:

Ne sachant que faire, il … : without knowing what to do, he… we could say: because he did not know what to do….

 3 Adjective

A participe présent may become an adjective

A funny book: un livre amusant

Encouraging results: des résultats encourageants

An arduous work: un travail fatigant

An arduous activity: une activité fatigante

The winning number: le numéro gagnant


Fatigant is the adjective but fatiguant is the verb.

Une activité fatigante

Une activité fatiguant les yeux: an eye strain activity (no final “e” because it is a verb)

4. Nouns

A participe présent may become a noun

Les étudiants (from the verb étudier)

Les gagnants

5 How to form the Participe Présent

We use the “nous” form of the verb

Manger => mangeons => mangeant

Finir => finissons => finissant

6 Differences between English and French

We don’t use the participe présent to translate the present continuous:

I am reading: Je suis en train de lire (or je lis)

We don’t use it after verbs like to love, to enjoy:

I enjoyed reading this book: j’ai apprécié lire ce livre

We don’t use it to translate expressions like “living our dreams”, “working is a waste of time” :

Living our dreams: vivre nos rêves

Working is a waste of time: travailler est une perte de temps

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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