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What Is the Difference Between the Present Progressive and Present Participle?

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Question: What Is the Difference Between the Present Progressive and Present Participle?
Both the present participle form of a verb and the present progressive aspect have the same "-ing" ending, but there's a critical difference between them. Let's find out what distinguishes a present participle ("singing," for instance) from the present progressive ("is singing").
Answer:

Though both end in "-ing," the present participle form of a verb is not the same as the present progressive aspect (also called the present continuous).

What They Are and How They Are Formed

What is a present participle?
A verb form with an "-ing" ending (for example, "tapping").

What is the present progressive aspect?
A form of the verb "to be" PLUS a present participle (for example, "is tapping").

How They Are Used

A present participle alone can't stand as the main verb of a sentence. For instance, "Sadie, tapping her cane to the music" is incomplete. In this example, "tapping" begins a present participial phrase that modifies the noun "Sadie." One way to make this word group into a sentence is by adding a subject and a predicate: "I remember Sadie, tapping her cane to the music."

A verb in the present progressive aspect may itself serve as the predicate of a sentence: "Sadie is tapping her cane to the music." The present progressive is used for ongoing actions--that is, for actions occurring at the moment of speaking and for actions that take place for a short period of time.

Review

So, we could have a sentence that contains both a present participial phrase ("tapping her cane to the music") and a main verb in the present progressive ("is singing"):

    Tapping her cane to the music, Sadie is singing loudly and out of key.
Here we recognize that "tapping" is a present participle (unaccompanied by a form of the verb "to be") and that "is singing" (present participle plus a form of the verb "to be") is the main verb in the present progressive aspect.

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