Grammar What Are Participles? (Including Examples and Usage) |
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What Are Participles? (Including Examples and Usage)

Do you know all of the grammatical parts of a sentence, or are you a participle of the problem?

All joking aside, you have probably heard of a participle but might not know what it is or even what the word means. You also surely use participles in your communication throughout the day.

In today’s post we are going to explain what participles are, consider some examples, and offer some tips for using participles correctly.

What Is a Participle?

A participle is a verb (action word) being used as an adjective. It’s a word that looks like it’s describing an action but is actually modifying a noun.

Consider the following sentence:

My favorite TV show was interrupted because of breaking news.

In this instance, we have a word that normally functions as a verb, breaking, being used to describe the type of news. Instead of its normal action-oriented meaning, as in “Stuart was breaking glass bottles for the recycling center,” it is referring to a current event (breaking news).

Here are a few more examples of participles:

Sarah gave a moving speech at the wedding reception.

The whistling wind gave the evening an ominous feel.

Kai loves the sound of rushing ocean waves.

Each of these sentences features an action word being used as an adjective.

Now let’s discuss other important basics of participles.

The Types of Participles

Participles are divided into present and past participles.

A present participle is a verb expressing a current action functioning as an adjective (as in our examples above). A present participle also is used to form the past, present, and future progressive tenses. Present participles end in -ing: moving, whistling, rushing.

A past participle is a verb expressing a completed action functioning as an adjective. It is also used to form the present, past, and future perfect tenses. Past participles help form the passive voice as well. Past participles have regular or irregular verb endings: finished, sprung, written.

Past Participle Examples

Tonight we will perform our recently finished song for you. (adjective)

A leak may have been sprung, but I’m sure we can fix it. (adjective)

May good books are written by aspiring authors each year. (passive voice)

Unless you are a writer or are completing an English composition or grammar course, you may not have become acutely aware of the participle types; however, by mastering them, you will only grow as a communicator.

How to Use Participles Correctly

To recap, participles are verb forms functioning as adjectives that add specificity and context to nouns. You are often more descriptive and colorful by writing a babbling brook than by writing a small stream of water.

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3 responses to “What Are Participles? (Including Examples and Usage)”

  1. Robing the Blankenship says:

    A participle is a terrible thing to dangle in front of.

  2. yeshie says:

    I was wondering how to explain the usage of the word “featuring” in the sentence “Famous artist Greg Miller published a book featuring a variety of species of butterflies he found in his travels.” I couldn’t find an example close to this.

    • says:

      The word “featuring” in your example sentence is a present participle serving as an adjective describing “book.” It is part of a longer adjective phrase: “featuring a variety of species of butterflies.”

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