Participles

A participle is a word that is formed from a verb and is used to make compound verb forms. We have 2 kinds of participles: past and present participle.

intermediate
"Participles" in the English Grammar

What Are Participles?

Participles are verb forms that can function as adjectives or adverbs, or accompany auxiliary verbs to form the verb tense. In some cases, participles can be used to create reduced relative clauses.

Participles: Types

There are three types of participles in English:

Present Participle

A present participle is a verb form that ends in '-ing', and it can be combined with the verb 'to be' to form continuous tenses. For example:

  • Watch + -ing → watching
  • Say + -ing → saying
  • Sit + -ing → sitting

Present Participle: Spelling Rules

To form the present participle, we usually add '-ing' to the base form of the verb. However, there are some spelling rules to keep in mind. Here are some guidelines to help you spell the present participle correctly:

  • If the verb ends in a consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the final letter:

Stop → stopping

"O" is the stressed vowel here.

Run → running

  • If the verb ends in a consonant + unstressed vowel + consonant, (the base verb is not stressed) do not double the final letter.

Open → opening

'E' is an unstressed vowel here.

  • If the verb ends in an '-ie', replace the '-ie' with '-y'.

Lie → lying

Die → dying

  • If the verb ends in a vowel + consonant + 'e', omit the 'e.'

Come → coming

Mistake → mistaking

Present Participle: Uses

Present participles can serve different functions, including the following:

Present Participle: Continuous Tenses

To form continuous tenses in English, we use the present participle form, which is also known as the gerund.
There are 6 continuous tenses in English:

Tense Example
Present Continuous Chelsea is washing the dishes.
Past Continuous Chelsea was watching TV.
Future Continuous Chelsea will be eating dinner with friends.
Present Perfect Continuous Chelsea has been studying.
Past Perfect Continuous Chelsea had been taking a shower.
Future Perfect Continuous Chelsea will have been visiting her grandmother.

Present Participle: Adjectives

Present participles (also called verbal adjectives) can be used as adjectives in sentences. All verbal adjectives replace a verbal clause.

The rain was pouring. → the pouring rain

The kid is smiling and looking at me. → The smiling kid is looking at me.

Remember, adjectives are usually placed before nouns unless they are the complement of the sentence.

Present Participle: Nouns

The present participle can also function as a noun in English, taking on roles such as subject of the verb, object of the verb, object of a preposition, verb complement, or part of a compound noun.

Stealing is a crime.

Here, the present participle is the subject of a verb.

He tried to quit smoking.

Here, the present participle is the object of a verb.

One of his hobbies is jogging.

Here, the present participle is the complement of a verb.

What I like most about swimming is feeling refreshed after it.

Here, the present participle is the object of a preposition.

I put the dirty clothes in the washing machine.

Here, the present participle is part of a compound noun.

using the present participle as a part of a compound noun

Past Participle

The past participle is a verb form that usually ends in a '-d' or '-ed' and can serve different functions. However, some verbs do not form their past participles by adding '-ed' or '-d'. They are called irregular verbs.

Watch + ed → watched

The 'ed' is pronounced as /t/ here.

Walk + ed → walked

Bake + d → baked

Now, look at some examples of irregular verbs.

Sing → sung

Eat → eaten

Run → run

Past Participle: Spelling Rules

Here are the spelling rules for the formation of the past participles of regular verbs:

  • If the verb ends in a vowel + '-y', add '-ed'

Play → played

'-Ed' is pronounced /d/.

Employ → employed

  • If the verb ends in a consonant + '-y', '-y' is replaced by '-i' before '-ed' is added

Study → studied

Here, '-ied' is pronounced /ɪd/

Hurry → hurried

  • If the verb ends in '-e', add '-d' after it.

Live → lived

Dance → danced

  • If a monosyllabic verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before adding '-ed'

Stop → stopped

Plan → planned

  • If the verb has more than one syllables, double the final consonant before '-ed' only if the final syllable is stressed.

Permit → permitted

Her, '-ed' is pronounced /ɪd/. And the final syllable is stressed.

Prefer → preferred

Here, '-ed' is pronounced /d/ and the final syllable is stressed.

  • If the final syllable of the verb is not stressed, do not double the final consonant before '-ed.'

Listen → listened

Here, '-ed' is pronounced /d/.And the final syllable is not stressed.

Develop → developed

Here, /-ed/ is pronounced /t/ and the final syllable is not stressed.

Past Participle: Uses

Past participles serve different functions, including:

  1. Used with the verb 'have' to form perfect tenses
  2. Used with the verb 'be' to form passive sentences
  3. Used as an adjective

Past Participle: Perfect Tenses

To form perfect tenses in English, we use the past participle. There are six perfect tenses in English, but only three of them require the use of the past participle (the perfect continuous tenses use the gerund instead).

Tense Example
Present Perfect Melisa has arrived home.
Past Perfect Chen had washed the dishes.
Future Perfect Alison will have traveled to Paris.

Past Participle: Passive Voice

The passive voice is formed by using the 'be verb followed by the past participle. Pay attention to the examples:

I am washing the dishes. → The dishes are being washed.

Someone stole my car. → My car was stolen.

Past Participle: Adjectives

Past participles (also called verbal adjectives) can be used as adjectives in sentences. All verbal adjectives replace a verbal clause.

Her heart was broken. → Her broken heart made her cry.

My car was stolen. → My stolen car was found.

Perfect Participle

The perfect participle phrase begins with 'having' and is followed by the past participle form of the verb. Naturally, the spelling rules for past participles also apply here. For example:

paly → having played

cry → having cried

Uses

A perfect participle construction can be used:

  • to show that one action was completed before another action began
  • as an alternative to a subordinate clause
  • as an adjective

Perfect Participles: Showing Sequence of Events

The perfect participle phrase is used to show that one action was completed before another action began. It is often used in complex sentences to express a sequence of events. Pay attention to the examples:

Having missed the train, I was late for the meeting.

Having forgotten my phone at home, I couldn't call for help.

Perfect Participles: As an Alternative to a Subordinate Clause

Perfect participle phrases can be used as an alternative to a subordinate clause to express a cause-and-effect relationship between two actions. For example:

He didn't get the job, having arrived late for the interview.

The alternative sentence using a subordinate clause would be 'Because he arrived late for the interview, he didn't get the job.'

Having not studied enough, he failed the exam.

The alternative sentence using a subordinate clause would be 'Because he had not studied enough, he failed the exam.'

Perfect Participles: As an Adjective

Perfect participle phrases can be used to modify a noun or pronoun, adding more information about an action that was completed before another action began. Take a look at the example:

The book, having been on the bestseller list for months, was finally adapted into a movie.

The car, having been serviced regularly, was in excellent condition.

Review

Participles

Participles are words formed with verbs that are used with auxiliary verbs to create different tenses.

Different Kinds of Participles

Present participle A present participle is the form of the verb that ends in -ing and is used with the verb 'to be' to form continuous tenses. It is used to form continuous tenses. /It is used as an adjective. / It is used as a verbal noun.
Past participle Past participle is a form of a verb that usually ends in -d or -ed and can have many functions. However, some verbs don't form their past participle by adding -ed or -d suffix. They are called irregular verbs. It is used with the verb 'have' to form perfect tenses. / It is used with the verb 'be' to form passive sentences. / It is used as an adjective.

Present Participle Spelling Rules

If the verb ends in consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter. stop → stopping
If the verb ends in consonant + unstressed vowel + consonant, (the base verb is not stressed) do not double the last letter. open → opening
If the verb ends in 'ie', change the 'ie' to 'y'. lie → lying
If the verb ends in vowel + consonant + 'e', omit the 'e'. come → coming

Past Participle Spelling Rules

If the verb ends in a vowel + 'y' add 'ed'. play → played
If the verb ends in a consonant + 'y', 'y' it changes to '-i' before 'ed'. study → studied
If the verb ends in a vowel 'e' add 'd' after it. live → lived
If a monosyllabic verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before 'ed stop → stopped
If the verb has more than one syllable, double the final consonant before 'ed' only if the final syllable is stressed permit → permitted
If the final syllable of the verb is not stressed, do not double the final consonant before 'ed'. listen → listened

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