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Present Participles

We form the present participle by adding "-ing" to the end of a verb.

Base VerbPresent Participle
eateating
sleepsleeping
askasking
readreading

We can use present participles in many ways. Let's take a look at all of them!

1. Present Participles can be used in continuous verb tenses.
  • She is sleeping.
  • I have been working for 3 hours.
  • They were playing soccer when I came.
  • She was driving when she got a phone call.
  • Are you getting ready?
  • Have you been crying?
  • What have you been doing?
  • Where are you going?
2. Present participles can be used after the verb "to go" when we are talking about an activity or hobby. We can use these any verb tense.
  • I like to go shopping.
  • She goes camping with her family every weekend.
  • They went snowboarding last week.
  • We will be going home soon.
  • Are you going to go shopping today?
  • Are you going camping?
  • Will you go hiking?
  • Where will you go fishing?
  • I have never been skydiving. (Present Perfect Tense)
  • Have you ever gone snowboarding? (Present Perfect Tense)
Note: We sometimes use the verb "to be" instead of "to go" in the present perfect tense.

3. Present Participles can be used after a noun and describes an action that is ongoing (not finished).
  • I heard someone crying.
  • They saw something burning.
  • We saw a child laughing.
  • I thought of you laughing and it made me happy.
4. Many present participles are commonly used as adjectives.
  • It was an amazing day.
  • It is an interesting movie.
  • The movie had a surprising twist.
  • What an exciting day!
If you take away "-ing" then you have a verb. Here some examples of the same words used as verbs.
  • She amazes me.
  • That movie didn't interest me.
  • The movie surprised me.
  • It will excite you.
5. We use present participles a lot with the following verbs: spend, waste, catch, find.

Subject + waste/spend + (time/money) + present participle
  • She wastes a lot of time talking about unimportant things.
  • I spend my weekends fishing.
  • They spend most of their time arguing.
  • The wasted the whole day sleeping.
Subject + catch/find + (person/object) + present participle
  • I caught him stealing.
  • She found me sleeping under a tree in the garden.
  • They found some money lying on the ground.
  • We found a ball floating in the lake.
6. We can use a present participle to show that one action was happening when a second action occurred. This kind of sentence is not very common. People do not usually speak this way, but you might see it in writing.
  • Talking to himself, he entered the room.
  • Starting his car, he picked up his phone.
  • Putting on his hat, he left the office.
7. This one is also not very common in speaking. We can use present participles to explain a reason. They usually go at the beginning of a sentence and provide background.
  • Feeling hungry, he made a sandwich.
  • Being tired, I took a nap.
  • Being a doctor, he gets respect everywhere he goes.
It is much more common to use "because", "since", or some other way to give a reason.

These are the different ways that we can use present participles. You will also learn them naturally as you practice and study English.

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