Present participles are a key part of English grammar. But what exactly is a present participle? And when do you need one? In this post, we\u2019ll explain the basics.\n\nWhat Is a Present Participle?\nPresent participles are a type of verb. Most are formed by adding \u2018-ing\u2019 the end of a base verb (e.g. look \u2192 looking). These words have two main uses:\n\n\n \tDescribing ongoing actions in the progressive tenses.\n \tModifying nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases as adjectives.\n\nLet\u2019s look at both of these uses in more detail.\n\nPresent Participles in the Progressive Tenses\nThe progressive (or continuous) tenses refer to ongoing actions. For the present, past, and future progressive tenses, this involves combining some form of the verb \u2018be\u2019 (e.g. is, was, are, were) with a present participle:\nPresent progressive: We are cooking dinner together.\nPast progressive: They were eating dinner when he arrived.\nFuture progressive: He will be graduating next year.\nPresent participles are also used in the progressive versions of the perfect tenses. In these cases, the present participle will follow \u2018has been\u2019 or a variation of this:\nPresent perfect progressive: The rain has been falling all day.\nPast perfect progressive: The pot had been boiling since lunch.\nFuture perfect progressive: We will have been waiting for an hour by then!\nAs such, present participles are vital for using tenses correctly.\n\nPresent Participles as Adjectives\nIf you put a present participle before a noun or noun phrase, it works like an adjective. This means it modifies the word or phrase to tell us something about it:\nHe wished upon a shooting star.\nIt was a long, boring lecture.\nIn the first sentence above, the present participle \u2018shooting\u2019 specifies the kind of star. And \u2018boring\u2019 in the second sentence tells us about the lecture.\nPresent particles can also work as modifiers in in participle phrases:\nGive this package to the man wearing giant shoes.\nRaising his voice to be heard, the man gave his speech.\nIn the first sentence \u2018wearing giant shoes\u2019 tells us about the package's recipient. And \u2018raising his voice to be heard' gives us extra detail about the man giving the speech. In both cases, though, the present participle is part of a participle phrase.\n\nForming Present Participles\nIn most cases, you can form a present participle by simply adding \u2018-ing\u2019 to a base verb. But you may need to modify the spelling of the base term slightly when:\n\n\n \tA verb ends with \u2018-e\u2019 \u2013 In this case, drop the \u2018e\u2019 before adding \u2018-ing\u2019 (e.g. make \u2192 making, write \u2192 writing, love \u2192 loving, manage \u2192 managing).\n \tA verb in \u2018-ie\u2019 \u2013 Here, replace the \u2018-ie\u2019 with \u2018y\u2019 before adding \u2018-ing\u2019 (e.g. die \u2192 dying, tie \u2192 tying, lie \u2192 lying, vie \u2192 vying).\n \tThe doubling up rule would apply \u2013 In these cases, you would double the final consonant before adding \u2018-ing\u2019 (e.g. begin \u2192 beginning, flap \u2192 flapping).\n\nIf you\u2019re ever unsure about the spelling of a past participle, though, our expert editors can help. Submit a free 500-word trial document today to find out more.