What’s the Difference Between Participe Présent and Gérondif in French?

differences between the participe présent and the gérondif

The Participe Présent and the Gérondif are very similar verbal forms, people tend to call them cousin verbal forms. They do have quite a few differences and are used to express different actions and situations. Today we’ll show you the differences and examples of each so you can use them as a native speaker.

How to use the Participe Présent

To correctly form the present participle, you need to take the first person of the plural (nous) and conjugate it with the Présent Indicatif and take away theons and replace it withant.

The Participe Présent is invariable, it can have the same subject as the main verb or just have its own subject.

In most cases, there’s a simultaneity between the participle and the main verb. You can employ this verbal form in two main ways.

  • Using a present participle is equivalent to using the relative pronounqui and the conjugated verb.

La personne lisant le journal est mon grand-père.

The person reading the paper is my grandfather.

  • It can also be used to express time, a cause, or a consequence.

Cette année, les pluies ont été très abondantes engendrant des inondations. (Consequence)

This year, the rain has been very abundant causing flooding.

Learn more about How to form a present participle in French?

How to use the Gérondif

The French gerund is formed with the preposition en and the present participle.

This is an invariable verbal form, it has the same subject as the main verb. In the majority of the cases, there’s a direct link between the simultaneity of the gerund and the main verb.

This can also be used in quite a few ways.

  • when it’s at the beginning of the phrase, it can express time, a cause, the way, the condition, or the opposition.

En partant maintenant, vous arriverez à l’heure à votre rendez-vous. (Condition)

By leaving right now, you’ll get to your appointment on time.

  • when the gerund is after the main verb, it’s used to express the way.

Pierre arrive en boitant.

Pierre got here limping.

  • when it’s used after the main verb with the adverb tout, it indicates that the action is being done at the same time as the main action.

Elle écrit tout en ecoutant de la musique.

She writes while listening to music.

Learn more about When to use the French gerund, tips, and examples

Main differences between the Participe Présent and the Gérondif

There are quite a few differences between the Participe Présent and the Gérondif, here are three of them.

  1. Using the Participe Présent allows us to express an action and the Gérondif, helps us express a circumstance of the action described by the verb (it can be a simultaneity of two actions being done at the same time).
  2. The Participe Présent can be followed by a COD (complément d’objet direct) or a circumstantial complement. Meanwhile, the Gérondif can replace the circumstantial clauses just like time, cause, manner, condition, and opposition.
  3. And the Participe Présent has a compound form to express anteriority and the Gérondif does not have a composed form.

Now you can use the Participe Présent or the Gérondif accurately

As we come to the end of this lesson, we hope that this helped you understand how to use the Gérondif and the Participe Présent and how to use each of them accurately. But if it’s not clear, don’t worry because we have all the material and lessons you need to understand how to use these verbal forms like a native speaker.

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