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Use the French Pronoun y to Replace Prepositional Phrases

How to Form Present Participles in French

To create a French gerund, you need the present participle. Forming the present participle is easy for most verbs, regular and irregular. Take the nous form of the present tense, drop the -ons ending, and replace it with -ant. Do not keep the subject pronoun nous. You’re done!

The table shows how some common verbs form their present participle.

Forming the Gerund of Some Common Verbs
Infinitive Nous Form of Present Present Participle
aller (to go) nous allons (we go) allant (going)
arriver (to arrive) nous arrivons (we arrive) arrivant (arriving)
commencer (to begin) nous commençons (we begin) commençant (beginning)
dire (to say) nous disons (we say) disant (saying)
dormir (to sleep) nous dormons (we sleep) dormant (sleeping)
faire (to do) nous faisons (we do) faisant (doing)
finir (to finish) nous finissons (we finish) finissant (finishing)
manger (to eat) nous mangeons (we eat) mangeant (eating)
ouvrir (to open) nous ouvrons (we open) ouvrant (opening)
parler (to talk) nous parlons (we talk) parlant (talking)
répéter (to repeat) nous répétons (we repeat) répétant (repeating)
tenir (to hold) nous tenons (we hold) tenant (holding)
travailler (to work) nous travaillons (we work) travaillant (working)
vendre (to sell) nous vendons (we sell) vendant (selling)
voir (to see) nous voyons (we see) voyant (seeing)

You only have to worry about three irregular gerunds in French. They are:

  • avoir (to have), which becomes ayant (having)

  • être (to be), which becomes étant (being)

  • savoir (to know), which becomes sachant (knowing)

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