Useful Grammar Extras

Useful Grammar Extras
Present Participle and ‘Venir de’
This article will discuss further useful grammar points that will be useful for your exams. One of
these is the present participle, which can easily be incorporated into the written assessments
and would look particularly impressive in the speaking assessments. The other grammar point
to impress the examiner is the use of ‘venir de’, which will also be presented in these pages.
Present Participle
1. Meaning
The present participle in English is a word ending in ‘-ing’. For example, ‘I sing while doing the
washing up’. In French, present participles are used in much the same way.
In this particular article, we will be looking at the equivalent meaning of ‘by …ing’ and ‘while
…ing’ in French.
2. Formation
Present participles are formed by taking the ‘nous’ form of the verb and removing the ‘ons’. The
ending ‘-ant’ is then added.
E.g. Faire  Nous faisons  Remove ‘ons’ to make ‘fais’  Add ‘ant’ to make ‘faisant’
You will often see ‘en’ used with the present participle in French. This ‘en’ is the English
equivalent of ‘by’ or ‘while’.
E.g. Je regarde la television en faisant mes devoirs. (I watch television while doing my
Type of Verb
(En) chantant
(En) finissant
(En) prenant
3. Examples
E.g. ‘Preparer’:
En préparant le diner, notre mère nous aide beaucoup.
By making dinner, our mother helps us a lot.
E.g. Courir
On peut arriver à l’heure si on mange le petit déjeuner en courant à l’école.
We can arrive on time if we eat breakfast while running to school.
E.g. ‘Lire’ :
Parfois je marche à l’école en lisant un livre.
Sometimes I walk to school while reading a book.
4. Irregular Present Participles
There are not many irregular present participles in French, but
Etre  (En) étant
Avoir  (En) ayant
Savoir  (En) sachant
Venir de
‘Venir de’ with a verb in the infinitive is used to express the meaning ‘to have just done
something’. It is a useful construction that can be put in your writing or speaking exercises. It
would show the examiner that you can use a variety of grammatical structures and will help
raise your score in the exams when used with other tenses.
‘Venir de’ is commonly used in just two tenses – examples of these are shown below.
1. Present tense
Notice how the present tense is used for this construction in French where the past perfect
tense (‘I have done’) would be used in English.
 Je viens d’acheter une voiture.
I have just bought a car.
 Nous venons de manger des croissants.
We have just eaten croissants.
2. Imperfect tense
Notice how the imperfect tense is used in French, where the past perfect tense (‘I had done’) is
used in English.
 Il venait d’arriver à l’aéroport.
He had just arrived at the airport.
 Vous veniez de passer un examen.
You (formal/plural) had just sat an exam.
Multiple Choice Questions
1. What are present participles in English?
a) They are verbs in the present tense
b) They are words that take ‘-ing’
c) They are past tense words
d) They are words that take ‘-ed’
2. How are present participles formed in French?
a) The infinitive takes ‘-ant’ at the end of the word
b) The ‘ez’ is removed from the ‘vous’ form of the verb, then ‘-ant’ is added
c) The ‘ons’ is removed from the ‘nous’ form of the verb, then ‘-ant’ is added
d) The ‘ent’ of the ‘ils’ form is replaced with ‘-ant’
3. Which of the following is a correct French present participle?
a) Sommant
b) Veulant
c) Peuvant
d) Faisant
4. What is the equivalent of ‘en’ when used with the present participle in English?
a) While
b) By
c) Either A or B
d) In
5. What does this mean: ‘Je lis un livre en écoutant de la musique’?
a) I am reading a book while listening to music
b) You are reading a book by listening to the music
c) You read a book while listening to music
d) They are reading books and listening to music
6. Which of the following is NOT a present participle?
a) Intéressant
b) Parlant
c) Finissant
d) Jouant
7. Which of the following infinitive verbs is irregular as a present participle?
a) Etre
b) Avoir
c) Savoir
d) All of the above
8. What does ‘venir de’ mean?
a) To come to
b) To go to
c) To have just done (something)
d) To do (something)
9. What does this mean: ‘Je viens de faire mes devoirs’?
a) I have just done my homework
b) I had just done my homework
c) I’m just going to do my homework
d) I will just do my homework
10. What does this mean : ‘Ils venaient d’aller en vacances’ ?
a) They have just gone on holiday
b) They had just gone on holiday
c) They would have gone on holiday
d) They have come to go on holiday
1. B
2. C
3. D
4. C
5. A
6. A
7. D
8. C
9. A
10. B