Past Participles

The past participle is the third principal part of a verb that is most commonly known to be used with tenses. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

"Past Participles" in the English Grammar

What Is Past Participle?

Before we start our lesson, let us see what the past participles are. You have probably faced the name 'past participle' especially if you have tried to study 'regular verbs.' Basically, the past participle is trying to refer to an action, or an event that has occurred in the past.

How Do We Form a Past Participle?

Now that we know what 'past participle' is, let us talk about how to form one. We already are familiar with the concept of regular and irregular verbs. We will go through both in the past participle.
The past participle is the third principal part of a verb. With regular verbs, we have an easy case of creating these words. We create it by adding '-ed,' '-d,' or '-t' to the base of a regular verb. Check out the examples:

To look → Looked

To work → Worked

As you saw earlier, creating past participle with regular verbs is very easy. The tricky part is when we are faced with irregular verbs. The problem with irregular verbs is that in a matter of words they are not 'regular,' they do not follow a certain pattern and do not really follow a certain rule. What you need to do is that you need to memorize them and learn them by heart. For example:

To be → Been

To write → Written

Now that you are quite familiar with how they are made, let us to look at the following sentences to see them in action:

We’ve been here for hours!

When I got home my husband had already arrived.

Spelling Rules

We covered past participle and its forms, now let us discuss the rules and regulations that you need to follow when forming the past participle of regular verbs:

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

Play → Played 

Employ → Employed 

  • If the verb ends in a consonant + 'y,' 'y' it changes to '-i' before 'ed.'

Study → Studied 

Hurry → Hurried 

  • If the verb ends in a vowel 'e' add 'd' after it.

Live → Lived

Dance → Danced

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

Stop → Stopped 

Plan → Planned

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

Permit → Permitted 

Prefer → Preferred 

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

Listen → Listened 

Develop → Developed

Past Participles and Tenses

past participles as adjectives

We learned how 'past participles' are created, now in the table below, we will take a look at the tenses that use past participle. If you pay attention to them you will notice that the usage of these participles is marked in 'perfect' forms.

Tenses Examples
The present perfect I've met him before.
The past perfect I had already heard the song.
The future perfect They'll have finished by now.
The third conditional If I hadn't missed the train, I would have been here by now.
Modals in the past He could have tried harder.
The passive form Apple company was founded by Steve Jobs.

Past Participle Adjectives

We promised that we will cover all the aspects of past participle for you and here we are. Let us talk about past participles as adjectives. Earlier we showed how past participles are made. Some of these words become the describer of a noun, or an object. Take a look:

Tired (= feeling that you want to sleep or rest) → He was dead tired.

Bored (= tired and impatient because you do not think something is interesting) → I was really bored while I waited for you.

Participle Phrases

Now that we know all the related uses of past participles we can discuss 'participle phrases.' These phrases have a participle at the beginning and are followed by a modifier, an object, or a complement. To put it simply, the entire phrase tends to act as an adjective. This is why they modify nouns or pronouns. They tend to describe situations that happen before the main action of the sentence.

I finally found the hose stolen from my garden.

We read the mails sent by our fans. (= We read the mails that had been sent by our fans).

Participle Clause

The first question that rises to the surface when we see the name 'participle clauses' is 'what is it anyway?'
Partciple clauses are dependent clauses but they tend to use a participle form of a verb. Mainly, they are used to shorten the main clause. Participle clauses tend to show time, reasons, and situations. We can use them in passive sentences. For example:

Having worked out all day, harry was drained.

Drowned in watching Netflix, he forgot to call his mother. (= He was drowned in watching Netflix that he forgot to call his mother).


Participles are special forms of verbs that are used as:

  1. Adjectives
  2. Clauses
  3. Phrases


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