What Are Past Participles?

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What Are Past Participles?

Past participles are formed from verbs. Past participles (just like present participles) can be used as adjectives or used to form verb tenses.

Let's look at the verb to whisper:
Here's the past participle: whispered
There are two types of participles: Past and present participles are classified as verbals. (A verbal is a verb form that functions either as an adjective or a noun.)

Examples of Past Participles Being Used As Adjectives

Here are some examples of past participles being used as adjectives:
The VerbThe Past Participle
To swellswollen eyes
To breakbroken plate
To ruinruined cake

Past Participles in Participle Phrases

Past participles can often be found in participle phrases. A participle phrase acts like an adjective. In the examples below, the participle phrases are shaded and the past participles are in bold: Read more about participle phrases.

More Examples of Past Participles Used as Adjectives

Here are some examples of past participles (shaded) being used as adjectives:

Past Participles Used in Verb Tenses

As well as being used as adjectives, past participles are also used to form verb tenses. Here are the verb tenses (past participles shaded):
The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I broke
past progressive tense I was breaking
past perfect tense I had broken
past perfect progressive tenseI had been breaking
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I break
present progressive tense I am breaking
present perfect tense I have broken
present perfect progressive tense I have been breaking
The 4 Future Tenses Example
simple future tense I will break
future progressive tense I will be breaking
future perfect tense I will have broken
future perfect progressive tense I will have been breaking

Click on the past participles:



 

Forming the Past Participle (Regular Verbs)

If it's a regular verb, the past participle is the same as the simple past tense. In other words, it is formed like this:

Add "ed" to most verbs:
If a verb of one syllable ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the final consonant and add "ed":
If the final consonant is w, x or y, don't double it:
If last syllable of a longer verb is stressed and ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the last consonant and add "ed":
If the first syllable of a longer verb is stressed and the verb ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], just add "ed":
If the verb ends "e", just add "d":
If the verb ends [consonant + "y"], change the "y" to an "i" and add "ed":

Forming the Past Participle (Irregular Verbs)

If it's an irregular verb, the past participle is formed in all sorts of different ways. Here are some examples:
You just have to learn them.

Click here for a list of the most common irregular verbs.


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See Also

What are adjectives? What are present participles? What are participle phrases? What are adjective phrases? What are verbs? What are verb tenses? What are gerunds?