English participles have several different functions in the English
language. So let's make them clear and easy to understand.
Check out our new series of illustrated workbooks:
Stories and Exercises to Practice the Perfect Tenses
What does "participle" mean?
What is a participle?
The word participle
comes from a Latin word which means "a sharing, partaking" (or in other
A participle is a form
of the verb
that is used together
with another verb
to form certain tenses
- I am eating an apple.
EATING is a form of the verb EAT.
It is used together with another verb (AM) to make the present progressive
So EATING is a participle.
- I have washed the dishes.
WASHED is a form of the verb WASH.
It is used together with another verb (HAVE) to make the present perfect tense.
So WASHED is a participle.
In English there are mainly two kinds of participles: the present
participle and the past participle.
The present participle ends in "-ing".
The present participle is used together with the verb
to form the progressive
Click here to read the full article on the present participle.
- They are dancing
together right now.
- John was painting
the wall all morning.
- I will be sleeping
by the time you come back.
The past participle ends in "-d" or "-ed", in case of a regular
, or differently, in case of
The past participle is used together with the verb HAVE to form the perfect
- They have danced
together in the past.
- John had painted
the wall before he sold the house.
- I will have fallen asleep by 8 o'clock tomorrow.
The past participle is also used together with the verb
to form passive
- The wall was painted by John.
- The apple was eaten by me.
- We were given
some good advice.
Participles as adjectives
Both the present participle and the past participle can be used as adjectives
|The movie was very boring.
That book was so interesting.
His message was a bit confusing.
What an amazing
You really are annoying
. . .
James has an exciting
|Why do you look so bored?
She is very interested
I feel quite confused.
We were quite amazed
to see her.
The audience became annoyed.
We are so excited!
Participles are used together with helping verbs
(also called auxiliary verbs).
Click here for the English Helping Verbs e-mail course.
Present Participle Practice
Read the following story. The present participles are underlined
After reading, you can do the exercises.
Bob and his mother are at his sister's wedding. His mother seems
worried and keeps asking him questions.
Isn't this wonderful, Mom? Ann is getting
Yes, yes. It is.
Aren't you excited?
Of course. I'm also feeling
anxious. What if something
What could go wrong?
Well, where is the minister?
He's standing by the door talking to Uncle Pete.
Ok. Well, what about, Dan, the groom? Where is he hiding
Remember, he is waiting
in the room next door. He will come in
when the music starts.
Fine. Maybe I'm just worrying
too much. But I just want today to
be perfect for your sister.
It will be. Relax. Look, everyone is here. Aunt Sara and Uncle
Mike are talking
to John and Pam over there. Sally and Louise are
in the corner laughing
about something. Even Grandpa Mike is
himself. See? He is sitting
in the front row smiling
I suppose you're right.
I am. Just relax. And just think, after this, we will get to go to
the reception and everyone will be able to have fun.
Oh! The reception. Oh dear. I should have called the caterer
(person bringing food) and checked to be sure they had everything they
I'm sure they are ok. They are professionals. They do
this all the time.
But what if the ovens aren't working
and the food gets cold?
They are bringing
lots of food warmers to keep the food hot,
Oh, right. And what about the drinks? What if the bartender
(person who makes drinks) is having
trouble finding the reception?
He works at the hotel where we are having
the reception. I'm sure
he knows how to get there.
And the dance floor. What if it is too small?
People will manage. Not everyone dances at the same time.
What if nobody dances?
People always dance at weddings, Mom.
I guess you're right. Maybe I should just relax.
Yes. Relax and enjoy the day. Your only daughter is getting
married. This is exciting
I know. But I'm going
to miss her.
She's not going
anywhere. She and Dave are staying
They'll be living
ten minutes from you.
But if she's married, I don't want to bother her. I
won't call her as much as I do now.
Mom, you aren't bothering
her when you call. She loves talking to
Are you sure?
Yes, I'm sure. She told me this morning how much she loves you and
how happy she is to be living
close to you.
Well, that makes me very happy to hear.
It should. Not all daughters enjoy being
with their mothers.
This is true. Oh! The music is starting
. That must mean that it's
time for the wedding to start.
It does. Look, here comes Ann now. She looks beautiful!
Yes, she does!
And now, practice:
At a Wedding - Exercises
1. What does "anxious" mean?
2. What does "caterer" mean?
a) a person who makes drinks
b) a person who plays music
c) a person who brings food
a person who works at weddings
3. What does "professional" mean?
1. He is sitting in _________ front row smiling.
2. They _________ lots of food warmers to keep the food hot remember?
b) are bringing
d) have brought
3. He works _________ the hotel where we are having the reception.
1. Who is getting married?
2. What worries Bob's mother about the food?
3. What worries Bob's mother about the dance floor?