Easy Guide to Participle Verbs in English

Participles are a common encounter in the English language. They’re a type of verb often misconstrued as a simple verb. Contrary to this, participles are very complex in their meaning. If you’re struggling to master using participle verbs in English, read this article.

It explains participle verbs and enumerates the types of participles. It also provides readers with simple examples to help them learn participle verbs. Let’s begin with a few basic concepts. 

A red and brown book
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What is a Participle Verb?

A participle is a verb used to form a progressive tense or perfect participle or when a continuous or perfect participle is needed. In terms of grammatical function, a participle can either be an adjective or a verb.

A common misconception is that a participle (particularly the past participle) is a verb tense. It isn’t a verb tense. Instead, a past participle is a special verb form used in the past and present perfect tenses. Their primary purpose is to denote a continuing action or state. 

Past Tense vs. Past Participle

The past tense is a verb tense referring an action performed in the past. A past participle is a verb form used in conjunction with an adjective or adverb that has changed to a participle. There is a subtle difference between them. 

A past participle typically refers to the state of something in the past. On the other hand, the past tense refers to something that has occurred in the past. Past participles cannot function independently and require an auxiliary verb like “have” or “had.

For example: 

  • Lived → Have lived
  • Talked → Have talked
  • Ate → Have eaten 

Types of Participle Verbs in English

There are two main types of participle verbs. This section will explain them briefly.

Past Participle

A past participle is a verb form describing the state of something that occurred. 

For example:

  • Yes, I have walked past the new building.
  • Jacob has seen the latest Top Gun movie.

Present Participle

A present participle uses the -ing suffix. It describes the state of something that is currently happening.

For example:

  • The elf was laughing.
  • The medicine left him feeling groggy.

In Summary

Participles are verb forms allowing us to describe an action more precisely. They can be used as verbs and adjectives. Past participles use auxiliary verbs, and often end with -ed, -d, -t, and -n suffixes.

Present participles always end with -ing. We hope this simple guide helps you improve your mastery of the English language. Feel free to check out our other English guides to further improve your grammar skills.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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