Quick Tips on Using Participles

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

Hi everyone.

Continuing the topic of tricky English grammar rules, I decided to write a quick guide on participles. It is hilarious how many students make mistakes in this rather simple grammar construction, or simply omit using it to be out of harm’s way. At the same time, participles can greatly diversify your speech, make it more natural-sounding, and make it easier for you to express a lot of things.

So, to start with, a participle is a verb that is used as an adjective (unlike a gerund, where a verb is used as a noun). There are two forms of participles:

  • Present participle (ending with -ing)
  • and

  • Past participle (ending with -t, -ed, -d, -en, or -n)

In a sentence, participles are used as predicates, broadening and describing the subjects they are related to. Participles may consist of whole phrases, or look like just a predicate-subject pair. It is easier to show by examples rather than use lengthy explanations, so here they are:

Present Participle

  • That guy chewing potato chips is my brother Ron.
  • Murmuring some popular melody, John entered the room full of people waiting for him.
  • Always willing to help, Jane could not deal with the fact that this time her assistance was not needed.
  • The guys fighting in the backyard are actually friends; I wonder what might have caused the conflict.

Past Participle

  • The risen sun illuminated the city’s dirty streets, remains of the former glory, and the grim faces of citizens rushing to their offices.
  • I stared at the opened window for a while, but no one showed up.
  • A properly cooked Italian pizza is much different–and better–from what they sell at Pizza Hut.
  • A wisely chosen major can determine a student’s entire life in the future.

As you can see, in all of these sentences, there is a verb that serves as a description to the following nouns. This is what participles do.

Turning a verb into a participle is simple. What you need is:

Verb + ing (for present participle) or -t, -ed, -d, -en, or -n (for past participle) + a subject which this verb relates to as predicate.

I hope this information is helpful, and you will no longer have problems with participles. Good luck!

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