From Academic Kids

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".

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).

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. For example, 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 is formed with the verbal stem ant. The past participle endings vary according to the verb category, but most often end in or i. It is treated as an adjective and can require agreement.


In Spanish, the present participle (el gerundio) of a verb is generally formed with one of the suffixes -ando, -iendo; the past participle (el participio) is generally formed with one of the suffixes -ado, -ido.

Traditionally, Spanish grammar has regarded the present participle not as an adjective, but as an adverb, and it does not change form to agree with any noun in gender or number. Nonetheless, it is used in much the same ways as the (adjective) present participle in English; for example, Spanish's equivalent of English's progressive aspect (e.g., to be doing) is formed with a combination of the verb estar (to be in a transient sense) and the present participle of the main verb (e.g., estar haciendo).

By contrast, the past participle is considered an adjective, and agrees with a noun in gender and number, except when used to express the perfect aspect (e.g., to have done, which in Spanish is haber hacido).


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

de:Partizip pl:Imiesłw


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