Grammar: Present Participle on the web-site for teachers and learners of English as a secondary language from a German point of view
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"Wenn du Großes erreichen kannst, 
  weil andere an dich glauben,
  dann stell dir nur vor, 
  was du erst erreichen kannst, 
  wenn du selbst an dich glaubst."

  Peter O'Connor: Der freie Flug des Adlers.
  Eine Reise zum eigenen Glück


Jessica Tittel: Present Participle

Dear classmates,
This time, I'd like to introduce you a personal friend of mine - a farmer, named Present Participle. Never heard of him? Well, this isn't surprising because in our wealthy society farmers try to travel unrecognised, sometimes even disguised as businessmen and women under the name of " - Ing-Form". There is even a King, named "Gerund". He tries to imitate him by taking on his outfit (the tail of - ing). But the difference between these two is, that  Farmer Present Participle can define somebody or something whereas King Gerund describes things or persons  that are used for an activity. Why farmers shouldn't be kings? The reason is, that they have different friends. The farmer loves other farmer families and the king loves the high society.
Both, Farmer Present Participle and King Gerund have their special circles of friends
Farmer Present Participle loves some working class families of the Verb Clan and King Gerund tends to meet the noble people of Nouns;

i.e. Farmer Present Participle is closer to the Verbs Clan and King Gerund is closer to the Nouns Clan in attitude, behaviour and company.

Things/ Persons used for an activity
dancing-teacher (Tanzlehrer)= a teacher that is needed for dancing

Present Participle:
things/persons that are doing something

dancing-bear (tanzender Bär) a bear which dances

There are 4 different participle forms:
                                 Present participle        past participle
active voice                making*                    having made**
passive voice             being made ***        having been made***

*    This form goes steady with progressive forms of the verb
**  This form is connected with compound forms of the verb in the following tenses:
        the present perfect (has/have made),
        the past perfect (had made),
        the conditional II (would have made)
        and the future II (will have made)
*** This form goes together with all passive forms of the verbs

 Let's have a look at a lively Verb. The complete form of the verb consists of

1. person   (I, you, he/she/it, we, they)
2. number       singular,          plural
3. tenses
4. voices     active                or passive voice
5. aspects   simple form        or progressive form.

Farmer Present Participle's function is only to shorten sentences.
That means, you can shorten a normal sentence by using the Participle Constructions.
This is what remains from the defining characteristics of the verb:

1.   tenses :  there are only two left: present participle and past participle, but the latter won't be my subject today
2.  active voice  or passive voice.

Everything else has dropped!!

Deciding what function Present Participles have in a sentence can sometimes be confusing. But let's have a closer look at those different functions.

In order not to be discovered by normal people, Farmer Present Participle can function as an adjective or an adverbial.


 The captain of the sinking ship remained    standing on deck.
                           (Attribute)                        (Complement)

Farmer Present Participle has good relations to some families. One family, named "Verbs of Motion&Rest", has got six members. Their names are:
 "to sit, stand, lie, remain, come and go".

Farmer Present Participle lets them go first, when he invites them.

 Farmer Present Participle sits there waiting for his family.

The farmer doesn't only "sit and wait", he also observes people. He sees people, he hears, feels, notices, finds and watches people like everybody else.

 Would you like to hear what people say about him?

  "Oh, he watches us kissing!"   (Er sieht zu uns, wie wir uns küssen!)
  "Yes, he heard me talking on the telephone!!"
  "He didn't see me leaving the house to go to my boyfriend and he
    didn't observe me flirting with him!"

   Do you hear those people speaking  about the farmer? Why didn't I say:
   Do you hear those people speak      about the farmer?

 The answer is like this:

The present participle is used to describe an activity in progress, especially when all parts of the activity are watched. If you report on the facts only,  then you will use the infinitive in both verbs like:

"We saw the man open the car door, put in the box and drive off."      That is the infinitive. (.sahen, dass....)
"We saw the man opening the car door, putting in the box and driving off."  That is the participle. (sahen, wie....)

  Oh sorry, the farmer wants to go on. Let's listen to him:

 "I'm a lucky man feeling like you."

Silence. Nothing more to hear.
You see, that Farmer Present Participle doesn't love to say things in a long way because he is very lazy (or tired). But it's normal. I'm lazy, too. So keep in mind, that this is very typical of him.

 In fact, we can say:

 "I'm a lucky man who is feeling like you."

 In this sentence, the relative pronoun "who" is the subject.

What we should learn next is, that we are all individuals, and so is Farmer Present Participle.
He sometimes walks ahead (precedes)  another sentence and we must wait for the subject to come.

(In this case the clause with the present participle is separated from the main clause by a comma.)

Listen to Farmer Present Participle telling us something about his last trip to Australia with his friend:

"Looking down from the plane, we saw the lights of the city.
(Als wir... hinunterschauten..., ...)

Putting "not" or "never" in front of the participle, his second statement will be negative in form:

"Not knowing much about the climate in Australia, we were surprised by the very hot weather."
 (Da wir nicht viel ... wussten, ...)

 And now, his words continue sounding very formal:

 "Having travelled so far the first weeks, we were glad to have a rest for a few days."
 (Da wir... so weit gereist waren, ...)

 Farmer Present Participle's friend Subordinate Clause told me the same story but in his own way.

 "When we looked down from the plane, we saw the lights of the city below."
 "As we didn't know much about the climate in Australia, we were surprised by the hot weather."
 Friend Subordinate Clause didn't like to give his last statement in a formal way. So he simply said:
 "As we had travelled so far, we were glad to have a rest for a few days.

 You see, both have said the same thing, but in their own way and - that's important!! - in contrast to the Subordinate Clause the farmer uses no conjunction and only parts of the verbs.The main clause remains the same all the time. It can take different tenses for example the past, but  Farmer Present Participle always remains the same, although it is also translated  with the past form in German.
But if Farmer Present Participle's action took place before the action of the main clause, then his Dad Farmer Past Participle Active takes over:

Having waited for a long time, I decided to go home.
"Having + -ed or third form of irregular verbs" (past participle) is used.

 Now, we have had
 1. the negative form,
 2. the formal(participle) and the informal (subordinate clause) form,
 3. we had a look at actions that happened before another action (having + past participle).

There is one question to be answered: What about Farmer Present Participle and his relation to conjunctions? Can the Farmer also use conjunctions (e.g. while, though) when he wants to tell something? The answer is  yes, he and the Subordinate Clause can.

 The farmer continues:
"While staying in Detroit, I met one of my old Cambridge friends.
  Though living lonesome, I liked to be with my friends!"

 The Subordinate Clause says.
"While I was staying in Detroit, I met one of my old Cambridge friends.
  Though I was/ had been trained as a chemist I liked to be with my friends!"

There is only one question left:
What happens if the subject of the main clause and the subject of the Participle clan are different?
There is a little helping hand assisting Farmer Present Participle: It's the preposition
" with" together with the new subject:

I can't work properly with all that noise going on.

You can  make one sentences sentence out of two even if they have different subjects with the second subject using "with", followed by the subject and the Present Participle".
The relation between the two consists of "reason" and "effect" or "condition" and "consequence".

3 single sentences:
I have prepared a test. I use present participles. They make one sentence out of two.

One sentence with 2 subordinate (relative) clauses:
I have prepared a test in which I use the present participles which make one sentence out of two.

One sentence   -         with +  2nd subject   +  present participle
I have prepared a test     with present participles     making one sentence out of two.
                                            (reason/condition)            (effect/consequence)

<Click here and you will always get back to the table of contents>
Table of Contents
Present Participle HOMEback to the homepagePAGE back to the previous page back to
Pronouns,place and time
go on to
A survey: gerund
on to the next page