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?

Past participles are a type of verb form that are used to form several tenses, including the present perfect, past perfect, and passive voice. They are also used to form participial phrases, which serve as adjectives in a sentence.

Past Participle: Form

The past participle is the third principal part of a verb. With regular verbs, we can simply form past participles by adding '-ed,' '-d,' or '-t' to the base form of the regular verb. Check out the examples:

To look → Looked

To work → Worked

Besides adding '-ed', '-d', or '-t' to a verb, there are several irregular verbs in English that form their past participles in different ways. It's important to memorize these irregular verbs because they don't follow the typical pattern. For example:

To be → Been

To write → Written

Now pay attention to their use in sentences:

We’ve been here for hours!

When I got home my husband had already arrived.

Spelling Rules

there are certain spelling rules to be followed 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' is replaced by '-i' before 'ed' is added.

Study → Studied 

Hurry → Hurried 

  • If the verb ends with the 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

The table below presents a list of the tenses that use the past participle, along with some examples. The use of these participles is marked by the '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

Past participles can also be used as adjectives in participial phrases to modify a noun or a pronoun. Take a look at the examples:

He was dead tired.

Here, 'tired' as an adjective modifies the pronoun 'he'.

I was really bored while I waited for you.

Participle Phrases

Participle phrases have a participle at the beginning which is followed by a modifier, an object, or a complement. The entire phrase tends to act as an adjective, modifying nouns or pronouns. They tend to describe situations that happen before the main action of the sentence. Pay attention to the examples:

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

Participle clauses are dependent clauses that use the participle form of the verb. They are typically used to shorten the main clause. Participle clauses are used to indicate time, reason, and situation and can be used in passive sentences. For example:

Having worked out all day, Harry was drained.

The cake, having been baked by my grandmother, was delicious.

Review

Participles are special forms of verbs that are used as:

  1. Adjectives
  2. Clauses
  3. Phrases

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