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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?

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  • 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 at 17:35
  • @None Why not make it an answer? Comments aren't supposed to be used to asnwer.
    – Zoma
    Jun 29 at 9:51
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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.

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