French Gerund : Tips and Examples

when to use the french gerund, tips and examples

The gérondif is a declinable verbal form that replaces the infinitive in certain functions. This verbal form has endings inant and is preceded by the preposition en, which is used to describe certain circumstances of the actions. It functions as a circumstantial complement of cause, concession, etc…; its underlying subject is identical to the subject of the main verb.

How to use it?

The gerund, it’s formed with en + present participle, is used when the two verbs have the same subject and express the same thing. You can use it to express different things.

Read about How to form a present participle in French?

  • You can express time:

Je l’ai salué en passant.

I greeted him as I walked by.

  • Use it to describe simultaneity:

Elle tricote en regardant la télévision.

She knits while watching TV.

  • Apply it when you need to voice the way of doing the action:

Le vase s’est brisé en tombant.

The vase broke when it fell.

  • A condition can be another good way of using it:

En ne disant pas un mot, vous consentez.

By not saying a word, you’re consenting.

  • You can use it when talking about a cause:

Il s’est blessé en reprenant l’entraînement trop tôt.

He got hurt by returning to training too early.

  • And use it when expressing opposition/concession:

Même en réfléchissant vraiment, il n’a pas trouvé la solution.

Even thinking really hard, he couldn’t find a solution.

Using it with different verbal tenses

This verbal form can be used with two different verbal tenses, one is described as simple and the other as a compound tense.

  • The simple tense is the present tense.

The present these with a gérondif is the present participle preceded by en. It’s invariable and used as a circumstantial complement.

Il est venu en chantant.

He came singing.

Je bavarde avec mes amis en rentrant chez moi.

I’m talking with my friends on my way home.

  • The compound tense is the past tense.

In the past, this verbal form is used with the past participle preceded by en. It’s introduced by a previous notion. This is rarely used but it comes in handy.

En ayant révisé, c’est plus facile.

By having revised, it’s easier.

En étant venu, on se rend mieux compte du travail à faire.

Having come, we are more aware of the work to be done.

Now you can use the gérondif to express different situations as you like

As we come to the end of this lesson, you might’ve realized that this verbal form is very similar to the Present Participle, they are often confused and sometimes they’re even called cousin verbal forms. But we hope that with these grammar tips, definitions, and examples, you’re confident enough to start using the Gérondif in different situations. And remember to put your knowledge to the test.

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