I read this sentence in a book

Le taxi s'éleva à la verticale. Gaal regardait par la fenêtre incurvée, en se cramponnant instinctivement à la banquette.

However, I dont understand the specific use on en in the second sentence, it doesn't seem to replace anything. Can somebody please explain it to me?

  • En followed by the present participle of the verb is called a gerund. You will find a question & answer about this there (it's in French). This link (in English) could help.
    – None
    Jun 27, 2021 at 17:35
  • @None Why not make it an answer? Comments aren't supposed to be used to asnwer.
    – Zoma
    Jun 29, 2021 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


In French, the construction en + [participe présent] is used to mean while ________ing. It is called le gérondif. This is one use of en; the use you're thinking of is that of en as a pronoun that replaces phrases with de/de la/du. This is not the case here, as you've pointed out.

With this in mind, I (a non-native French speaker) would translate your sentence as

The taxi rose vertically. Gaal watched through the curved window while instinctively holding on to the seat.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.