Participle

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In linguistics, a participle is a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives.[1] Examples of participle formation are:


Verb
Past
Simple
Past
Participle
Present
Participle
Regular/
Irregular
to hire hired hiring regular
to do did done doing irregular
to say said saying
to eat ate eaten eating
to write wrote written writing
to beat beat beaten beating
to sing sang sung singing
to see saw seen seeing

As noun-modifiers, participles usually precede the noun (like adjectives), but in many cases they can or must follow it:

  • The visiting dignitaries devoured the baked apples.
  • Please bring all the documents required. (= Please bring all the documents that are required.)
  • The difficulties encountered were nearly insurmountable. (= The difficulties that were encountered were nearly insurmountable.)

Present participles[change | change source]

The present participle in English has the same form as the gerund, but the gerund acts as a noun rather than a verb or a modifier. The word sleeping in Your job description does not include sleeping is a gerund and not a present participle.

While English past participles, like past tense forms, are sometimes irregular, all English present participles are regular, being formed with the suffix -ing. The present participle in English is in the active voice and is used for:

  • forming the progressive aspect: Jim was sleeping.[2]
  • modifying a noun as an adjective: Let sleeping dogs lie. (= Let dogs that are sleeping lie.)
  • modifying a verb or sentence in clauses: Broadly speaking, the project was successful.

Past participles[change | change source]

The past participle may be used in both active and passive voices:

  • forming the perfect: The chicken has eaten.
  • forming the passive voice: The chicken was eaten.
  • modifying a noun, with active sense: our fallen comrades (= our comrades who have fallen)
  • modifying a noun, with passive sense: the attached files (= the files that have been attached)
  • modifying a verb or sentence, with passive sense: Seen from this perspective, the problem presents no easy solution. (= When it is seen from this perspective,....)

Passive participles[change | change source]

Passive participles reflect past action in the passive voice, for example

  • The dog, having been praised by its master, was happy, or more commonly, The dog, praised by its master, was happy.


Even irregular past participle verbs often follow the format -en or -ne, as may be seen from above. For examples:


Verb
Past
Participle
to beat beaten
to do done
to eat eaten
to fall fallen
to give given
to help holpen [3]
to show shown
to see seen
to write written

References[change | change source]

  1. What is a participle? in Glossary of linguistic terms at SIL International.
  2. progressive aspect = continuing
  3. Archaic form in early Modern English, used in the Book of Common Prayer version of the Magnificat, see e.g., King James Bible online. Accessed September 27, 2010.