What is a Participle?

Participle is a lexical item, derived from a verb, which indicates an action in progress (present participleOpens in new window) or an action that is completed (past participleOpens in new window) and shares some of the characteristics and functions of both verbsOpens in new window and adjectivesOpens in new window.

Types of Participle

There are two types of participle, the present and the past participles.

1.  The present participleOpens in new window — All present participle be it regular or irregular are formed by adding ‘–ing’ to the simple form of verbs.

Examples include:
  • Andy is cooking dinner.
  • Gradually we are achieving our goal.

2.  The past participleOpens in new window — In regular verbs, the past participle would either end with ‘d’ or ‘ed’, i.e., promote > promoted (adding ‘d’), enter > entered (adding ‘ed’). However, this is not the case with irregular verbs.

The past participle pattern of irregular verbs varies and are unpredictable. i.e., bring > brought (changes completely), sing > sung. Even though these two words (bring/sing) sounds alike; they take different patterns to form the past participle. One has to watch–out when dealing with irregular verb, and you can always make use of your dictionary to make sure you are on the right side.

Regular Verb
  • Andy has cooked dinner.
  • We have achieved our goal.
Irregular Verbs.
  • His book was stolen
  • The ice has melt.
  • I bought some clothe.
  • We were taught participle today in school.

How Participles Can Be Used

In English language Participles are used with auxiliary verbs to make verb tenses such as the present continuous and the past perfect:

Examples include:
  • We are relocating to Memphis. [present continuous]
  • The Johnson’s have relocated to Memphis. [past perfect]

Past Participles can be used in accompaniment with the auxiliary verb, to be, to form the passive voice of verbs:

Examples include:
  • Andy was asked to see the principal.
  • We were informed about the incident.

Participles can be used as adjectives:

Examples include:
  • The pavement was covered with broken glass.
  • He stared at me with bulging eyes.

Participles can be used as nouns:

Examples include:
  • She was a woman of good breeding.
  • Andy spent all day fishing.

When a present participle is used as a noun, as in the last set of examples, it’s also known as GerundOpens in new window:

Examples include:
  • Smoking is strictly forbidden.
  • Fishing is his hobby.