Present Participle‏‎ in English Grammar

The Present Participle is a participle‏‎ that ends in -ing.

We use it with the auxiliary verb‏ to 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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Posted in Parts of Speech.

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