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Present Participle

Notice that each present participle ends in "ing." This is the case 100 percent of the time. On the other hand, past participles do not have a consistent ending. The past participles of all regular verbs end in ed; the past participles of irregular verbs, however, vary considerably.

Present participles common to sentence structure

The present participle is very common in English, although you may not know it by that name. It is perhaps more familiarly called the "-ing" form. 

The present participle in English is usually formed by adding the suffix "-ing" to the base form of a given verb. Learn more about suffixes and prefixes. 

This present participle formation can then be joined together with various helping verbs in order to express the progressive tenses of the English language. 

The present participle is never used by itself as a verb. It is used in conjunction with other parts of speech, especially helping verbs.  

Proper usage and common rules

Here is an example for you of the present participle being used correctly within a sentence. 

"I was running down the street for my morning exercise routine when I suddenly spotted a twenty dollar bill on the ground."

In this sentence, running is used correctly in conjunction with the helping verb was. 

Now, here is an example of the present participle being used incorrectly within a sentence. 

"The man eating his breakfast of boiled eggs and bread with butter, just like he did every single morning before work."

This sentence is missing the helping verb is or was before the present participle eating. 

In case you would still like a little more information about the present participle, here are a couple rules you can follow when trying to make correct use of it. 

  1. The present participle almost always consists of an "-ing" form. Almost every "-ing" construction you have ever seen has probably been a present participle. The one exception is the gerund, which is a noun formed out of the present participle. But this is relatively rare. 
  2. Remember that the present participle cannot ever stand alone as a verb. It does, however have several different uses. It may be connected with helping verbs; it may come after a main verb signifying some kind of movement; and it may even be used as an adjective (such as "rising" in "rising sun"). 

Present participles important to everyday grammar

The present participle is a very important part of English grammar, due to the fact that the English language relies on the helping verb + participle construction in order to express all of its more complex grammatical tenses. In other languages, different tenses may be achieved through a direct modification of the base verb itself. This, however, is seldom the case in English.

There are two kinds of participles: the present participle, and the past participle. And there are several different helping verbs. These combinations produce several of the English verb tenses. 

The present participle, though, also has other uses unrelated to the formation of these tenses. For example, "-ing" adjectives, such as "amazing", constitute uses of the present participle as an adjective. This is in fact a relatively common use for the present participle. It can also be used in conjunction with other normal verbs, such as in the phrase "I went shopping".

The present participle is thus clearly a highly versatile part of English grammar. One of its main functions is to enable the expression of the progressive tenses; but it has other important functions as well. These various functions are usually learned and internalized simply through prolonged experience with the English language. 

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