Participles - Parts of Speech


Participles are a special part of verbs.  This page is all about this special part of speech.

There are two forms - present and past.

  • As part of a verb, the present form indicates ongoing present action.  
  • As part of a verb, the past form indicates ongoing action in the past.  
  • When identified as a verb, there will be an additional (auxiliary) verb – either the verb “to be” or the verb “to have.”  
  • This part of speech can also be an adjective.  


The present form acts like a verb, because it is a verb.  You can identify it because it ends in “ing.”


As a verb - present format:

  • He is going to the conference next week.
  • John is taking his vitamins daily.
  • Sabrina is going to be at school this afternoon.
  • Angie is planning her vacation for next winter.

In all cases above, the present participle is part of the verb and shows ongoing action in the present.  The auxiliary verb is the appropriate part of the verb “to be.”  When there is an auxiliary verb along with a main verb, we have a “verb phrase.”

A gerund is similar, also ending in “ing.” 

SPECIAL LINK - Click here for more information on the gerund.


Past Participles - as verbs

As a verb - past format:

  • He has participated in the conference last week.
  • John has taken his vitamins daily.
  • Sabrina has gone to school this afternoon.
  • Angie has planned her vacation for next winter.

Ongoing action in the past

In all cases above, the example is part of the verb.  The verb shows ongoing action in the past.  The auxiliary verb is the appropriate part of the verb “to have.”



Comparison of present and past formats:

  • She is going
  • She has gone


  • John is lying down
  • John has lain down


  • He is buying a new house.
  • He has bought a new house.


  • Derek is studying to become a lawyer.
  • Derek has studied to become a lawyer.



For interest, compare the verbs above to simple present and simple past tenses:

  • She goes.
  • She went.
  • John lies down.
  • John lay down.
  • He buys a new house.
  • He bought a new house.
  • Derek studies.
  • Derek studied.


Each verb above – and each tense – indicates a precise time element so has its own special purpose.

Past Participles - as adjectives

Now, as an adjective – 

  • I ate my sandwich.  
  • I have eaten my sandwich.
  • The sandwich is eaten.  

In the third example, “eaten” becomes the adjective describing the noun “sandwich.”

You could go further and add to the adjective –

  • He left his half-eaten sandwich on the table.


Another example using the various forms of "prepare":

  • I prepared my presentation.
  • I have prepared my presentation.
  • The presentation is prepared.  I submitted the prepared presentation.

In the third example above, “prepared” is the adjective describing the noun “presentation.”



…and so on…


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