Participles are verbs that can act as an adjective or another verb tense when combined with other verbs. There are three types of participles and two functions.
Keep reading to learn what a participle is and how to use it in a sentence. I also made a massive list of participle examples you can include in your writing!
What is a Participle?
Participles are verbals that come from verbs. They either function as adjectives or help in constructing verb tenses. This verb form often ends in the suffixes “-ing” or “-ed.” Some do not end in these suffixes because they are irregular verbs.
The word “participle” originated from the Latin word “participium,” which means “to share, participate, or partake.”
Here are some participle examples in a sentence:
- That was a refreshing experience.
- I have a box filled with old toys.
- Are you looking at me?
- I’m here in the sunken garden.
- She has driven me crazy.
What are the Three Participles?
The three types of participles are present, past, and perfect participles.
The present participle is a type of participle that is formed by adding “-ing” at the end of the verb. Even irregular verbs follow the “-ing” rule. For example:
- Did you spot the shooting star last night?
- She’s always napping in school.
- The sobbing baby had a wet diaper.
- Why are you laughing at me?
- I was having my late lunch when someone knocked on the door.
The present participle may include an auxiliary verb before it, depending on its function in the sentence structure. Some auxiliary verbs include “is,” “are,” and “were.”
The past participle is a kind of participle that has a different appearance. Regular verbs use the “-d” or “-ed” form at the end of the base form. Meanwhile, an irregular verb shows a change in spelling.
Like present participles, past participles can also be used with auxiliary verbs to create new verb forms. The presence of an additional verb that forms the compound verb depends on the participle’s function in the sentence.
You can also find them before a prepositional phrase.
Check out these examples of present participles in sentences
- The checked papers are on the counter.
- My phone was flooded with his messages.
- The fascinated audience gave him a round of applause.
A perfect participle is formed through the word “having” and then the past participle of the verb. The term perfect participle shows an action that already happened in the past. Use it for constructing different kinds of sentences in perfect verb tenses.
Here are some perfect participle examples:
- Having watched the drama film, Anna started to miss her sister.
- Having sent the assignment, Lana rushed to bed.
The act of “watching” and “sending” were already completed. Another action then occurred, “started to miss” and “rushed.”
What are the Functions of Participles?
The lesson on participles wouldn’t be complete without understanding their functions. The definition of the participle is a verb that either acts as an adjective or helps construct verb tenses. Here’s how to use these tricky participles.
Participles as Parts of Verbs
Past and present participles can be added to auxiliary verbs to construct a new verb tense.
The present participle, which contains “-ing,” can include auxiliary verbs “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” and more to show continuous tenses. Some continuous verb tenses and their examples include:
- Present continuous: I am carrying the sack.
- Past continuous: I was carrying the sack.
- Future continuous: I will be carrying the sack for a little while yet.
- Present perfect continuous: I have been carrying the sack for five minutes now.
- Past perfect continuous: I had been carrying the sack when the truck passed.
- Future perfect continuous: I will have been carrying the sack for a few minutes by the time the truck passes.
The participle carrying in the last sentence is the action verb helped by the auxiliary verb “will have been.” The -ing verb functions as a verb and not as an adjective in the complete sentence.
Past participles can act as verbs if paired with auxiliary verbs like “was,” “have,” “had,” and “were.” Here are some examples:
- Present perfect tense: I have eaten already.
- Past perfect tense: If I had already eaten, I wouldn’t have tried your gift.
- Future perfect tense: I will have eaten by the time you arrive.
- Present perfect continuous tense: I have been eating since you arrived.
- Future perfect continuous tense: I will have been eating by the time you arrive.
In the last two sentences, “been” is bold because it is the past participle of “be.” But “eating” is also a participle in the present form. Note that basic past participles end in “-d” or “-ed.” However, irregular verbs like “eat” require a change in spelling.
Participles as Adjectives
Present and past participles can also modify nouns and pronouns. These are called participial adjectives. For example:
- The running water suddenly turned brown.
The adjectival phrase in this sentence is running water. “Running” is a present participle that modifies the word “water.” The phrase “running water” is also the subject of the sentence.
- The doctor fixed my broken bone.
The past participle “broken” works as an adjective. And the participial phrase “broken bone” functions as a direct object of the sentence.
Participial adjectives can also be predicate adjectives like this example below.
- Darcy is a walking dictionary.
Predicate adjectives modify the subject of a sentence. They always appear before a linking verb.
What is a Participial Phrase?
According to Purdue University, participial phrases or participle phrases are a cluster of words that includes the participle and the additional modifiers. These modifiers may consist of a noun phrase and pronoun.
They work as a direct object, indirect object, or complement of the action. In short, they can function as an object of action expressed.
Take a look at these participial phrase examples in sentences:
- Men interested in women is a common thing.
- Having been a doctor for five years, Sheila instantly knew the lump was benign.
- Smiling at Jane, Jack planted a kiss on her forehead.
- The kids noticed the teacher talking inside the classroom.
What is a Dangling Participle?
According to Purdue OWL, dangling modifiers are words or phrases that modify a word unclearly shown in the sentence. A dangling participle is an example of a dangling modifier. Here are two examples of dangling participles.
- Having finished the task, Celeste played video games.
- Having finished the task, the video game was turned on.
The verbal phrase in these sentences is “having finished the task.” But the second example is not a correct sentence because of the dangling modifier error.
The subject needs to be the doer of the action stated in the dangling participle. In short, it should use the active voice so that the audience knows who “finished the task.”
If the passive voice construction is used, one might assume that the “video game” was the one that “finished the task.”
How to Tell if it’s a Gerund or Participle
A handful of verbs in a sentence might make you puzzled on whether the verbal phrase is a participial phrase or a gerund phrase. The principal difference between gerunds and participles is that gerunds function as nouns while participles are verbs or adjectives.
The “-ing” form either acts as a noun, verb, or adjective in grammatical terms. The part of speech it uses will determine the type of verbal. For example:
- Singing is my passion. (gerund)
- I am singing. (participle in the present continuous tense)
- I bought a singing doll. (participle as an adjective)
Here’s a long list of present and past participle examples you can add to your writing.
- Abiding, abode/aboded/abidden.
- Alighting, alit.
- Arising, arisen.
- Awaking, awoken.
- Being, been.
- Bearing, born/borne.
- Beating, beaten.
- Becoming, become.
- Beginning, begun.
- Beholding, beheld.
- Bending, bent.
- Betting, bet.
- Bidding, bidden/bid.
- Binding, bound.
- Biting, bitten.
- Bleeding, bled.
- Blowing, blown.
- Breaking, broken.
- Breeding, bred.
- Bringing, brought.
- Broadcasting, broadcast.
- Building, built.
- Burning, burnt/burned.
- Bursting, burst.
- Busting, bust.
- Buying, bought.
- Casting, cast.
- Catching, caught.
- Choosing, chosen.
- Clapping, clapped.
- Clinging, clung.
- Clothing, clad/clothed.
- Coming, come.
- Costing, cost.
- Creeping, creepy.
- Cutting, cut.
- Daring, dared.
- Dealing, delt.
- Digging, dug.
- Diving, dived.
- Doing, done.
- Drawing, drawn.
- Dreaming, dreamt/dreamed.
- Drinking, drunk.
- Driving, driven.
- Dwelling, dwelt.
- Eating, eaten.
- Falling, fallen.
- Feeding, fed.
- Feeling, felt.
- Fighting, fought.
- Finding, found.
- Fitting, fit/fitted.
- Fleeing, fled.
- Flinging, flung.
- Flying, flown.
- Forbidding, forbidden.
- Forecasting, forecasted/forecast.
- Foreseeing, foreseen.
- Foretelling, foretold.
- Forgiving, forgiven.
- Forsaking, forsaken.
- Freezing, frozen.
- Frostbiting, frostbitten.
- Getting, got/gotten.
- Giving, given.
- Going, gone.
- Grinding, ground.
- Growing, grown.
- Handwriting, handwritten.
- Hanging, hung.
- Having, had.
- Hearing, heard.
- Hiding, hidden.
- Hitting, hit.
- Holding, held.
- Hurting, hurt.
- Inlaying, inlaid.
- Inputting, input.
- Keeping, kept.
- Kneeling, knelt.
- Knitting, knit.
- Knowing, known.
- Laying, laid.
- Leading, led.
- Leaning, leant.
- Leaping, leapt.
- Leaving, left.
- Letting, let.
- Lying, lain.
- Lighting, lit.
- Making, made.
- Meaning, meant.
- Meeting, met.
- Melting, molten.
- Misleading, misled.
- Mistaking, mistaken.
- Mowing, mown.
- Overdrawing, overdrawn.
- Overhearing, overheard.
- Overtaking, overtaken.
- Presetting, preset.
- Proving, proven.
- Putting, put.
- Quitting, quit.
- Re-proving, re-proven.
- Reading, read.
- Ridding, ridded.
- Riding, ridden.
- Rising, risen.
- Running, run.
- Sawing, sawn.
- Seeing, seen.
- Seeking, sought.
- Selling, sold.
- Sending, sent.
- Sewing, sewn.
- Shaking, shaken.
- Shaving, shaven.
- Shearing, shorn.
- Shoeing, shod.
- Showing, shown.
- Shrinking, shrunk.
- Sleeping, slept.
- Sliding, slidden.
- Slinging, slunk.
- Smelling, smelt.
- Soothsaying, soothsaid.
- Speeding, sped.
- Spelling, spelt.
- Spending, spent.
- Spinning, spun.
- Spitting, spat.
- Spoiling, spoilt.
- Stealing, stolen.
- Stinking, stunk.
- Striding, stridden.
- Striking, stricken.
- Striving, striven.
- Swearing, sworn.
- Throwing, thrown.
- Treading, trodden.
- Undergoing, undergone.
- Undertaking, undertaken.
- Vexing, vex.
- Weaving, woven.
- Wedding, wedded.
- Weeping, wept.
- Withholding, withheld.
- Wringing, wrung.
- Zincing, Zinced.
The Last Word
The term verbal includes participles, which are verb forms that act as adjectives or different verb tenses. They can be classified as present participles that take the “-ing” form or past participles.
Once you understand how they work and their difference with gerunds, you’ll be able to sport participles right away.