Le gérondif – the gerund in French

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What is le gérondif?

Le gérondif (the gerund) in French grammar is en + participe présent (verb stem + -ant). The gerund is an impersonal verb form; this means that it cannot be conjugated. We use the gerund in everyday language to express simultaneous actions, conditions, contradictions and manner.

Learn how to form the gerund in French grammar and when to use it with our quick and easy examples. Practise what you’ve learned in the online grammar exercises.

How to form le gérondif

The French gerund is formed as follows: en + present participle. To get the present participle of a verb, we take the nous form in the present tense and replace the ending -ons with -ant.

aimer – en aimant
finir – en finissant
dormir – en dormant
vendre – en vendant

When to use le gérondif

The gerund describes the relationship between two actions and is therefore always used together with another verb. We use the gerund to:

  • talk about two simultaneous actions performed by the same subject, similar to the English structure while + ing
    En jouant, Max a marqué un but.While playing, Max scored a goal.
    Max a marqué un but tout en jouant.Max scored a goal while playing.
  • express a condition, similar to an if-clause
    En s’entraînant bien, son équipe gagnera aussi le prochain match.If they train well, his team will also win the next match.
  • show how an action was performed
    Il est rentré à la maison en chantant.He went home singing.
  • indicate a contradiction with tout or même
    Il a marqué un but tout en courant très peu pendant le jeu.He scored a goal while hardly running throughout the match.

The gerund shares its subject with the main verb and its form is invariable; i.e., it does not agree in gender or number.