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Present Participle‏‎ in English Grammar

In grammar a Verb Tense is a form of a verb‎ used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place. Here we talk about 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (Some people talk about more than 3, however.)

Compare this with Verb Form which is the form of a verb in a particular tense, e.g. present simple, present continuous, etc.

For more, see Verb Tenses‏‎ & Forms in English Grammar.

A Participle is a form of a verb‎. There are two participles:

present participle: -ing, e.g. walking, thinking

past participle: -ed, e.g. walked, thought

For more, see Participles in English Grammar.

Vowels and Consonants are the sounds which go to make up the English language.

  • If air passes straight through the mouth without being stopped or constricted this forms a vowel, written a, e, i, o, u
  • If the air is stopped at any point or the mouth then this creates a consonant, written b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

For more, see Vowels and Consonants‏‎ in English.

Verbs tell us about an action; they are sometimes called doing words or action words. Verbs describe what is happening:

run, walk, read, talk

For more, see Verbs‏‎ in English Grammar,

A Noun is a major part of speech; a good, general, definition of a noun is that it is something which is used to name an object or thing:

car, door, elephant...

For more, see Nouns in English Grammar.

The Bare Infinitive is the base form of the verb‏‎:
be, have, walk...

The Full Infinitive has to at the beginning:
to be, to have, to walk...

Both are known as the Infinitive.

For more, see Infinitives in English Grammar.

a pair of sunglasses with 'doing' and 'seeing' written on each lensThe Present Participle is a participle‏‎ that ends in -ing.

We use it with the auxiliary verbto be to form the continuous tenses‏‎:

{be} + (verb –ing}

I was walking home.

She is running for the bus.


The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the bare infinitive (that is, the most basic verb form).

walk > walking

eat > eating

One issue which sometimes causes problems is that the present participle has exactly the same form as the gerund (also known as verbal noun) and care should be taken in distinguishing between the two.

Spelling Variations

Adding -ing to the infinitive applies to most verbs‏‎. The only exceptions are with the spelling of some verbs.

Teacher Tip: when you are introducing the participle, don't bother with all the spelling exceptions below and mention them on a need-to-know basis only; you don't want your students getting bogged down in trying to remember and apply them all when they're writing. Given practice they will pick them up gradually; the rules below are given for reference only.

  • When the infinitive ends with a silent -e, this is dropped:

come > coming

write > writing

  • If the infinitive ends in -ie this is changed to -y:

lie > lying

tie > tying

  • If the infinitive is one syllable‏ and ends in a single vowel‏‎ sound + consonant (other than w, x, or y), double the final consonant:

cut > cutting

run > running

  • If the infinitive has two syllables where the second syllable is stressed, double the final consonant:

admit > admitting

format > formatting
  • If the infinitive ends with -c add the letter -k:

panic > panicking

traffic > trafficking


As mentioned above, in English the present participle is identical in form to the gerund and sometimes some teachers will use the term present participle to include both the genuine present participle as well as the gerund.

Other names for this participle include:

  • the present participle
  • the -ing form
  • the imperfect participle
  • the active participle
  • the progressive participle
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