What Are Participles?


What Are Participles?

A participle is a word formed from a verb which can be used as an adjective.

The two types of participles are the present participle (ending ing) and the past participle (usually ending -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n).

Here are some participles being used as adjectives:

The VerbThe Past ParticipleThe Present Participle
To risethe risen sunthe rising sun
To boilthe boiled waterthe boiling water
To breakthe broken newsthe breaking news
To cookthe cooked hamthe cooking ham

Participle Phrases

It is really common to see participles in participle phrases. A participle phrase also acts like an adjective. In the examples below, the participle phrases are shaded and the participles are in bold:

  • The man carrying the bricks is my father.
  • (The participle phrase carrying the bricks describes the the man.)

  • She showed us a plate of scones crammed with cream.
  • (The participle phrase crammed with cream describes the scones.)

  • Whistling the same tune as always, Ted touched the front of his cap with his forefinger as she dismounted.
  • (The participle phrase Whistling the same tune as always describes Ted.)

  • Stunned by the blow, Mike quickly gathered his senses and searched frantically for the pepper spray.
  • (The participle phrase Stunned by the blow describes Mike.)
Read more about participle phrases.


Present Participles

Present participles end in -ing. Examples:

  • boiling water
  • caring nature
  • deserving recipient
Some more examples of present participles (shaded):

  • A laughing man is stronger than a suffering man. (Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1880)
  • If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. (Mark Twain, 1835-1910)
  • The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams. (Tupac Shakur)
Present participles are not just used as adjectives. They are also used to form verb tenses. Here are the verb tenses (present participles shaded):

The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I went
past progressive tense I was going
past perfect tense I had gone
past perfect progressive tenseI had been going
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going
The 4 Future Tenses Example
simple future tense I will go
future progressive tense I will be going
future perfect tense I will have gone
future perfect progressive tense I will have been going

Read more about present participles.

Past Participles

Past participles have various endings, usually -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n. Examples:

  • broken window
  • painted frame
  • destroyed bridge
Some more examples of past participles (shaded):

  • A swollen eye is God's way of telling you to improve your interpersonal skills.
  • Do not waste time staring at a closed door.
  • I like children...if they're properly cooked. (W.C. Fields)
  • (Remember, an adjective can also appear after the noun it is modifying. See predicate adjectives.)
Past participles are also used to form verb tenses. Look at these verb tenses (past participles shaded):

The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I went
past progressive tense I was going
past perfect tense I had gone
past perfect progressive tenseI had been going
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going
The 4 Future Tenses Example
simple future tense I will go
future progressive tense I will be going
future perfect tense I will have gone
future perfect progressive tense I will have been going

Read more about past participles.

Perfect Participles

Perfect participles are formed like this:

"Having" + [past participle]

Examples:

  • Having taken
  • Having eaten
  • Having played
Some more examples of present participles (shaded):

  • Having heard the news, he quickly sold his brother's record collection.
  • Having been promised a steak dinner, she looked less than impressed with her Happy Meal.




See also:

What are participle phrases?
What are dangling modifiers?
What are verbs?
What are adjectives?
What are present participles?
What are past participles?
What is verb tense?
Glossary of grammatical terms
 
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Read about participle phrases.