What is a Past Participle? Definition, Examples of English Past Participles

Past participle definition: A past participle is formed from a verb and modifies a noun, noun phrase, verb, or verb phrase. A past participle most often ends in –ed.

What is a Past Participle?

What does past participle mean? A past participle is formed from a verb. Because it is used to express actions that have already happened, it takes the past tense form. Most past participles end in -ed.

 

when to use past participle English Past Participle Examples:

  • Verb: to play
  • Past participle: played
  • Sentence: She had played for hours. (used in past perfect tense)
  • Verb: to accelerate
  • Past Participle: accelerated
  • The speed at which the Zika virus is spreading in Puerto Rico has accelerated sharply, according to new federal data, complicating already difficult efforts to prevent thousands of pregnant women in the territory from infection. –The Wall Street Journal
  • Verb: to buy
  • Past participle: bought
  • Social media sites are hot these days. Snapchat. Instagram. Even if Verizon had bought Pokemon Go, the mobile augmented reality app that has been around only a couple weeks and yet has tens of millions of people chasing make-believe creatures down streets and through parks, there might be more tongues wagging among analysts. –The Washington Post

Past Participles as Adjectives

examples of past participle tense Past participles can be used to as adjectives. In this way, they modify nouns or noun phrases.

Even though they are acting like adjectives, past participles still look like verbs. Finding their placement in a sentence is key to understanding how they are being used in a sentence.

Example:

  • Verb: to ruin
  • Past participle: ruined
  • Past participle as adjective (modifying noun phrase): ruined my good mood
  • Sentence: The stormy weather ruined my good mood.

In this sentence, ruined serves as an adjective to modify the noun phrase my good mood.

Example:

  • Verb: to break (irregular verb)
  • Past participle: broken
  • Past participle as adjective: broken glass
  • Sentence: We were careful to avoid the broken glass.

In this sentence, broken serves as an adjective to modify the noun glass.

Past Participles in Participle Phrases

past participle sentences Past participles can also be used to create past participle phrases which act as adjectives.

Even though they are acting like adjectives, past participles still look like verbs. Finding their placement in a sentence is key to understanding how they are being used in a sentence.

In a participle phrase, the participle usually is the first word.

Example:

  • Verb: to brush
  • Past participle: brushed
  • Past participle as participle phrase: brushed with a comb
  • Sentence: Brushed with a comb, the dog’s fur felt smooth.

In this sentence, brushed with a comb serves as an adjective in a participle phrase to modify the dog’s fur.

Example:

  • Verb: to wrack
  • Past participle: wracked
  • Past participle as participle phrase: wracked with doubt
  • Sentence: The child had a mind wracked with doubt.

In this sentence, wracked with doubt serves as an adjective in a participle phrase to modify the child’s mind.

Forming the Past Participle: How to Form Past Participle Verbs

what is past participle tense The past participle of most regular verbs is formed by adding “-ed” to the end of the base (infinitive) form of the verb.

  • talk > talked
  • chew > chewed
  • reach > reached

The past participle of some verbs ending in a short vowel sound require doubling the last consonant before adding “-ed”

  • brag > bragged
  • skip > skipped
  • stop > stopped

The past participle of verbs that end with an “e” required only adding a “d” to the end of the word.

  • wave > waved
  • judge > judged
  • reserve > reserved

The past participle of verbs ending in “y” where the “y” replaces a vowel sound require the “y” to be dropped and “-ing” to be added.

  • study > studied
  • imply > implied
  • deny > denied

past particible The past participle of irregular verbs do not follow a specific pattern. Here are a few common examples.

  • run > ran
  • sing > sang
  • bring > brought

Past Participles in Other Tenses

In addition to being used as an adjectives, past participles are used to form the perfect tenses in English. Here is how they appear in the various tense.

The Four Past Tenses:

  • Simple Past Tense > I spoke
  • Past Progressive Tense > I was speaking
  • Past Perfect Tense > I had spoken.
  • Past Perfect Progressive Tense > I had been speaking.

The Four Present Tenses:

The Four Future Tenses:

  • Simple Future Tense: I will speak
  • Future Progressive Tense: I will be speaking
  • Future Perfect Tense: I will have spoken
  • Future Perfect Progressive Tense: I will have been speaking.

Summary: What is the Past Participle?

Define past participle: In grammar, the definition of past participle is a nonfinite verb used to signify a perfective aspect.

In summary, a past participle is formed from the past tense of a verb. It is used to create verb forms and may also modify nouns, noun phrases, adjectives, and adjective phrases.

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