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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 Verb The Past Participle The Present Participle
To rise
the risen sun
the rising sun
To boil the boiled water
the boiling water
To break the broken news
the breaking news
To cook the cooked ham
the 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, 18351910)
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
simple past tense
past progressive tense
past perfect tense
past perfect progressive tense
The 4 Present Tenses
simple present tense
present progressive tense
present perfect tense
present perfect progressive tense
The 4 Future Tenses
simple future tense
future progressive tense
future perfect tense
future perfect progressive tense

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

Example
I went
I was going
I had gone
I had been going
Example
I go
I am going
I have gone
I have been going
Example
I will go
I will be going
I will have gone
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.