French Gerund

A French gerund is a verb form based on the present participle; it always finishes in “-ant”, just like its English equivalent finishes in “-ing” (nevertheless the former’s use is certainly less common). It is utilized in order to describe how an action is carried out in relation to another action. In these cases, it is invariably preceded by the word “en”, which could be translated as “while”, “upon”. Examples:


J'écoute de la musique tout en lisant (I listen to music while reading).
En arrivant, il a commencé à travailler (Upon arriving, he started working).
Ma femme chante en jardinant (My wife sings while gardening).


Another use for the gerund (also accompanied by the word “en” right before it) is to explain or determine the way an event has taken place. In this sense, “en” could be translated as “by”. For example:


C'est en étudiant, qu'elle a passé le test (It is by studying, that she passed the test).
J'ai acquis plus sain en mangeant moins de graisses saturées (I have gotten healthier by eating less saturated fats).
En travaillant dur, elle a obtenu une promotion (By working hard, she obtained a promotion).


Additionally, gerunds can be used in replacement of the relative pronouns “qui” and/or “that”, at the beginning of a relative clause. Examples:


La jeune fille qui travaille avec moi… (The young girl who works with me…) La jeune fille travaillant avec moi...
L’homme qui vient du Pérou… (The man who comes from Peru…)        

L’homme venant du Pérou...

Le chien qui prend soin de notre maison… (The dog that takes care of our house…)

Le chien prenant soin de notre maison…

Share this page