Participles in English

Participle plays an important role in the formation of sentences in the English language. It can make our speech more concise, but at the same time bright and informative, replacing uncomfortable phrases or whole constructions.

But let's start by defining this phenomenon. Participle is an impersonal form of a verb that combines the features of not only the verb itself, but also an adverb and an adjective.

There are two types of participles in English, and we will look at each of them in more detail.


Participle I (Present Participle Simple)

This participle is formed by adding the ending -ing to the verb. For example:

Ask - asking - being asked (in passive)

Break - breaking - being broken (in passive)

Participle is often confused with gerund, since they have a similar form, but their grammatical qualities are completely different. Gerund is a verbal form of a noun and often serves as a subject:

Smoking is a dangerous habit.

The present participle, on the other hand, helps us talk about action. The present tense form shows the simultaneity of the action conveyed by the participle with the action conveyed by the predicate. In this case, a participle I is used regardless of the time of the main semantic verb.

Reading the book, I realized that I have a lot in common with the main hero.


Also, the present participle can act as a defining word to a noun:

I like watching the falling snow.


Participle I can replace the subordinate clause, namely the definitive pronoun with the verb following:

The girl sitting on the bench is my sister. (The girl who is sitting on the bench is my sister)


If the action transmitted by the participle was earlier than the action of the verb-predicate in the sentence, then we need to turn to another form - Perfect Participle I.

Having graduated from the university, he applied for a job.  (Since he graduated from university first, we put this action in the form of Perfect Participle I)


But it should be noted when it comes to two actions that continuously follow one after another, and if we do not need to intentionally emphasize the time difference between them, we can use the present participle:

Hearing the news, she smiled happily. (Actions occurred one after another and there is no need to separate them in time)


Participle II (Past Participle).

This type of participle is formed by adding -ed to the verb if it is a regular verb, and using the 3rd form for irregular verbs.

Play - played




The past participle is a passive participle and describes the finished action performed on an object. In a sentence, it can occupy a place both before the noun and after it:

The broken vase was on the floor.

All books written by this author are interesting.


In addition, the past participle is an integral part of all complex verb forms, namely:

Present perfect – They have just finished.

Past Perfect – Before we came here, we had been to the gallery.

Future Perfect – She will have written the article by the end of the day.

Perfect Infinitive – It was nice to have met you.

Present Participle Perfect – Having said that she regretted a lot.

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