- working man (adjective)
- broken heart (verb)
- asking me (adverb)
What is a Participle?
A Participle is a form of a verb that can function as part of a verb or adverb phase, or independently as an adjective or an adverb. A participle ends in -ed or -ing (except for some irregular verbs). A participle is formed from a verb and modifies a noun, noun phrase, pronoun, verb, or verb phrase. Most often, a participle functions as an adjective.
Consider the following examples:
- to run – running – I saw a running man.
In this example of a participle, the verb ‘to run’ is used. ‘Running‘ becomes the participle as it is used as an adjective to describe ‘man.’ What kind of man is he? A running man.
- ride – riding – I saw a boy riding a bicycle.
In this example the whole phrase ‘riding a bicycle‘ acts like an adjective. It describes the noun ‘boy’. The word ‘riding’ acts also like a verb, because it has ‘bicycle’ as its object. The phrase ‘riding a bicycle‘ is an action-based description of the boy.
Types of Participles
There are two types of participles in English: past and present.
Present Participles are forms of verbs that express a non-completed or continuing action. They end in ‘-ing‘ and are used with auxiliary verbs ‘be’ and ‘have’ to make continuous tenses, such as Present Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous, etc.
- It is raining all day long. (‘be’ + raining)
- The choir was singing beautiful chants. (‘be’ + singing)
- Cindy and Shaun have been spending their vacation at the sea.(‘have’ + spending)
How to form Present Participle
To form the Present Participle we add ‘-ing’ to the base form of the verb:
- to play → playing
- to hide → hiding
- to swim → swimming
|Note: Spelling rules for verbs when adding ‘-ing’.|
1. For verbs with silent ‘-e’ at the end, change ‘-e’ to ‘-ing’:
– to choose → choosing
– to glide → gliding
2. For verbs with ‘-ie’ at the end, change ‘-ie’ to ‘-ying’:
– to tie → tying
– to lie → lying
3. For verbs with ‘consonant + vowel + consonant’ at the end and final syllable stressed, double the last consonant (except for ‘-x’ and ‘-w’) and add ‘-ing’:
– to for’get → forgetting
– to ‘swim → swimming
Present Participle vs Gerund
When -ing forms are used as verbs, adjectives or adverbs, they are called Present Participles. They can refer to present, past or future.
- He was swimming when I came. (Here, ‘swimming’ means an action and acts like a verb)
- Swimming is my favorite sport. (Here, ‘swimming’ acts like a noun)
Past Participles are forms of verbs that express a completed action. They end in ‘-ed‘
except for irregular verbs) and are used with auxiliary verb ‘have’ to form perfect tenses such as Present Perfect, Past Perfect, etc., and Passive voice.
- I have passed the exam and I am very happy. (‘have’ + passed)
- Jane had planned to take the kids to the beach, but the weather changed. (‘have’ + planned)
- We have finished our work for today. (‘have’ + finished)
How to form Past Participle
In most cases (for regular verbs), to form the Past Participle we add ‘-ed’ to the base form of the verb:
- to listen → listened
- to like → liked
- to drop → dropped
|Note: Spelling rules for verbs when adding ‘-ed’. |
a) For regular verbs ending in ‘-e’, add ‘-d’:
– To live → John lived in Brazil.
– To close → She closed the door.
b) For regular verbs ending in one consonant + ‘-y’, change the ‘-y’ to “-ied”:
– To study → They studied German.
– To try → I tried to be kind.
c) For regular verbs that end in one vowel + one consonant, double the consonant and add ‘-ed’:
– To stop → They stopped the car.
– To plan → Nick planned a business trip.
d) We do not double the consonants ‘y’ or ‘w’:
– To play → She played piano.
– To row → He rowed 3km yesterday.
e) We do not double the consonant when the last syllable is not stressed:
– To listen → I listened to the radio.
– To visit → Margaret visited her mother on Tuesday.
Some common verbs in English have irregular Past Participle forms:
- I don’t feel (base form) quite well today. – I haven’t felt (past participle form) very well for over a week now.
- Helen has gone to Madrid. She will be back next Sunday.
- Mary has done her homework perfectly, her mam’s glad.
- The police have found the suspect within three hours.
When to use Participles
- barking dog
- flowering tree
- Verb Tenses
- I am thinking. (present continuous)
- I was driving. (past continuous)
- spotted dog
- broken vase
- Verb Tenses & Voice
- I had left. (past perfect)
- I have visited. (present perfect)
- The lesson was finished. (passive voice)
Here’s a good video from EngVid explaining how to use participles in a sentence: