Participles are special infinite infinite = unchangeable forms of the verb. There are two different participles for each verb:

Present Participle

The present participle is only used to create structures with present or active meaning.

Past Participle

The past participle is used to create structures with past or passive meaning.

Regular Form

The past participle is formed by adding the ending '-ed' to the verb.

  • A silent -e at the end of the verb is dropped (e.g. care - cared, argue - argued).
  • 'y' after consonant at the end of the verb becomes 'i' (e.g. cry - cried, fry - fried). (But: annoyed)
  • Single consonants after a short vowel are doubled (e.g. sin - sinned, outwit - outwitted).
  • age - aged (no double 'g'), because the vowel sound is not short.

Irregular Form

Irregular verb forms must be learned by heart. (Sorry. I know how this feels.) Lists of irregular verbs usually come as a table with three columns, of which

  • the first column is the infinitive, ...

  • the second column is the simple past form and ...

  • the third column is the past participle.


Every English dictionary contains such a list.
Additionally, the alphabetic section gives you the past and past participle forms of each irregular verb. So if you don't see such an entry, the verb must be regular.

Participles with attributive function

Grammar is a beast. In the name of simplification it often makes a mess of things. Participles are a good example. The British look at them from the a somewhat strange angle and tend to call them adjectives, whenever they are in a sentence position an adjective could fill. The Germans prefer a stricter structual approach and identify them as, well, participles. We will adopt the German view here, because it is simply more logical.

So whenever a participle is used to describe another element in a sentence in more detail, it is an attribute to this element. Consequently, it can be identified as a participle with an attributive function.

Participle constructions...

... replacing relative clauses

... replacing adverbial subordinate clauses ...

... of time

... of reason

... of concession

... expressing accompanying circumstances

Misrelated Participles