The Gerund

Updated: Jul 29

The Gerund (in French: le gérondif) is used to describe a link between two actions. It can be used to express simultaneity (i.e: while doing something) or causation (i.e: by doing something).

The structure of the Gerund in French:

"en" + Present participle of the verb

- "en" is the preposition corresponding to "while" or "by" in English.

- the present participle corresponds to your verb in -ing in English.

How to form the present participle:

In French, the present participle is formed using the steps below:

  1. Take the "nous" form of the verb in the present tense

  2. Drop the -ons ending

  3. add the -ant ending

Example: eating

  1. (nous) mangeons

  2. mange-

  3. mangeant


Phrases such as "I am eating" are in the present continuous.

In this instance the present tense will be used in French (NOT the present participle).

In French, you will say "je mange", NOT "je suis mangeant"; which is completely WRONG!

The present participle with reflexive verbs:

To form the present participle of reflexive verbs, you simply need to add the reflexive pronoun as shown in the table below.

Example: se lever- to get up

The present participle of irregular verbs:

There are only 3 irregular verbs for the present participle.

The Gerund in context:

1. Simultaneous actions

Example 1:

Elle écoute de la musique en faisant ses devoirs.

She listens to music while doing her homework.

Example 2:

Nous mangeons en nous promenant.

We are eating while walking.