A participle is a form of a verb that functions as an adjective. There are two kinds of participles: present participles and past participles.
Present participles end in -ing (jumping, burning, speaking). Past participles usually end in -ed, -t, or -en (jumped, burnt, spoken).
- Barking dogs seldom bite. (The present participle ‘barking’ describes the noun ‘dogs’.)
- A rolling stone gathers no moss. (The present participle ‘rolling’ describes the noun ‘stone’.)
- Don’t cry over split milk. (The past participle ‘spilt’ describes the noun ‘milk’.)
- Sweep away the fallen leaves. (The past participle ‘fallen’ describes the noun ‘leaves’.)
Don’t confuse participles and verbs. Participles aren’t preceded by an auxiliary verb, as these examples show:
- Dejected, Alice left the room. (Participle)
- Alice was dejected. (Verb)
Participles can combine with other words into participle phrases. They act as adjectives, as these examples show:
- Rejected by all his friends, he decided to become a monk. (The participle phrase ‘rejected by all his friends’ describes the pronoun he.)
- Most of the people invited to the party didn’t turn up. (The participle phrase ‘invited to the party’ describes the noun people.)
- Not knowing what to do, I telephoned the police.