Participle Examples

, M.A. English
Updated February 17, 2021
cookies and bottle of milk

The cookies WERE BAKED fresh this morning. (past participle)

    cookies and bottle of milk
    Claudia Totir/536917646/Moment/Getty Images
    Used under license from Getty Images

A participle is a word formed from a verb. Usually, this occurs by adding a suffix to the verb, but sometimes there are irregular formations. In these participle examples, you'll see they can be used as adjectives, nouns, or as part of a compound verb in English.

Participles as Parts of Verbs

There are two types of participles in English: past and present.

Present Participle

The present participle is always formed by adding the suffix -ing to a verb. When used with an auxiliary verb like "is," "am," "are," "was" or "were," the present participle forms a compound verb that describes an action that is in progress. For example:

  • She is babysitting tonight.
  • I am singing a song.
  • You are sharing your toys very nicely.
  • It was raining a little yesterday.
  • They were talking too much and got a detention.

Past Participle

The past participle is often, but not always, formed by adding the suffix -ed to a verb. It can also be paired with an auxiliary verb like "was," "were," "has" and "had" to show that an action has been completed. For example:

  • He was finished with the project.
  • The cookies were baked fresh this morning.
  • She has burned dinner before.
  • I have lived an interesting life.
  • He has lied to me too many times!

Note that many past participles in English are irregular and don't use the -ed suffix. For example:

  • The song was sung well by the rising opera star.
  • The new bed was brought into the house carefully by the deliverymen.
  • The dog has dug a big hole in the back yard.
  • The doctor said that you have broken your arm.
  • We have been very worried about you.

Participles as Adjectives

Both present and past participles can be used as participial adjectives to describe nouns and pronouns. In this case, the descriptive word is placed before the noun in the sentence. For example:

  • The going rate for freelancers is more than minimum wage.
  • He took a gardening class at the community college.
  • My baked beans come from an old family recipe.
  • The dyed fabric should not be washed in hot water.
  • The broken record isn't worth keeping.

Participles as Nouns

It's also possible to use present participles as nouns in English. In these cases, only participles with -ing endings will work. For example:

  • Sewing is easy once you know how.
  • His batting is better than his fielding.
  • He hated sitting in the backseat of the car.
  • The teacher acknowledged Sally's studying with extra credit points.
  • Lying under oath is a crime.

Once you understand how past and present participles are formed, it's easier to pick them out in sentences. By studying these examples, you should be able to use participles as verbs, nouns, and adjectives with ease.

Comment below with examples of your own.