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Encyclopedia > Past participle

In linguistics, a participle is an adjective derived from a verb.


Participles in Modern English

In the English language, there are two types of participle:

  1. the present participle, which is formed by adding the suffix "-ing" to a verb (the form is the same as that of a gerund, but the usage differs); and
  2. the past participle, which is formed by adding the suffix "-ed".

Most irregular verbs do not follow this pattern for forming past participles. Only modal auxiliary verbs fail to form present participles in English. All others form present participles by adding "-ing"; even the most irregular verbs do not vary from that pattern.


  • "talk" becomes "talking" and "talked" (regular)
  • "do" becomes "doing" and "done" (irregular)
  • "eat" becomes "eating" and "eaten" (irregular)

Many adjectives are formed from participles; as in "I saw a talking horse", "It was the done thing" and "She sold the crashed car at a loss".

A present participle is often confused with a gerund, a noun form of a verb with "-ing".

Participles in other languages


Other languages have different sorts of participles. E.g. Latin has:

  • active present participle: educans "teaching"
  • passive perfect participle: educatus "having been taught"
  • passive future participle: educandus "about to be taught"
  • active future participle: educaturus "about to teach"

Old English

Old English ended present participles with -ind. In the East Midlands dialect, it merges with -ing, which originally only named actions.


The present participle ends in ant. The past participle endings vary according to the verb category, but most often end in é, ée or ées.


In Esperanto each transitive verb has two present participles (active and passive), two past participles, two future participles, and two conditional participles. The conditional participles were not planned, but are universally understood. Intransitive verbs of course cannot have passive participles.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Participle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (513 words)
In linguistics, a participle is an adjective derived from a verb.
The present participle in English is an active participle; the past participle is usually a passive participle (but sometimes not: in particular, the past participles of intransitive verbs are never passive, and are therefore sometimes used with active senses, such as in the expression fallen comrades).
A present participle is often confused with a gerund, a noun form of a verb with "-ing".
Past Participle & Present Perfect & Progressive Tenses (259 words)
a past form of a verb that may be used in conjunction with another (auxiliary) verb in certain past tenses.
is formed by using the present tense of the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle of the verb to be conjugated.
This tense is equal to the use in English of the auxiliary verb have + past participle, as in I have spoken.
  More results at FactBites »



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