present participle


Definition of present participle

: a participle that typically expresses present action in relation to the time expressed by the finite verb in its clause and that in English is formed with the suffix -ing and is used in the formation of the progressive tenses

Examples of present participle in a Sentence

The verbs “dancing” in “He was dancing” and “crying” in “The baby is crying” are present participles.

First Known Use of present participle

1864, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about present participle

Time Traveler for present participle

Time Traveler

The first known use of present participle was in 1864

See more words from the same year

Statistics for present participle

Cite this Entry

“Present participle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for present participle

present participle


English Language Learners Definition of present participle

grammar : a verb form that ends in "-ing" and that is used with "be" to refer to action that is happening at the time of speaking or a time spoken of

present participle


Kids Definition of present participle

: the form of a verb that in English is formed with the suffix -ing and that expresses present action

More from Merriam-Webster on present participle

Spanish Central: Translation of present participle

Nglish: Translation of present participle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on present participle

What made you want to look up present participle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!