15.2.2 Present participle as adjective

One of the main differences comes first: the English present participle can be used as adjective (meaning as a description of a noun).

  Examples
The eating man reads the newspaper.
  The reading child is blond.
  The smiling woman is pretty.

This is not so easily the case in French. The French would use a relative clause, where the English can use a present participle. Only in some special cases, which we will discuss a bit later, the participe présent can be an adjective.

  Examples
The eating man reads a newspaper.
  L' homme qui mange lit un journal.
    The magazine reading child is blond.
  L' enfant qui lit le journal est blond.
    The smiling woman is pretty.
  La femme qui sourit est belle.

The reason for this is that adjectives in French need to change according to number and gender of the noun. This is something that the participe présent is not able to do.

The participe présent can be used as an adjective (here the special case), if it is used with a extension. This again is something that in English is not always used in the same way, as you can see in the examples.

  Examples
The child, that is reading good books, is intelligent.
  L' enfant lisant des bons livres est intelligent.

However, even in these case the participe présent cannot be changed according to the gender and number of the noun as to be seen also in the following examples.

  Examples
Ouvrant la porte il a vu le désastre.
    Opening the door he saw the desaster.
  Ouvrant la porte elle a vu le désastre.
    Opening the door she saw the desaster.
  Ouvrant la porte ils ont vu le désastre.
    Opening the door they (male) saw the desaster.
  Ouvrant la porte elles ont vu le désastre.
    Opening the door they (female) saw the desaster.

There are also forms of the participe présent that are no longer perceived as a special form, but as an adjective, these words then also change according to the following noun.

  Examples
éxiger => to demand
  éxigeant => demanding
  une personne éxigeante = a demanding person
  courir => to run
  courant => running
  de l' eau courante = running water






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