1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email




This sentence contains both a present participle (whispering) and a past participle (abandoned).


A verbal that functions as an adjective. Adjective: participial.

Present participles end in -ing (carrying, sharing, tapping). Past participles of regular verbs end in -ed (carried, shared, tapped).

As linguists have long observed, neither of these terms is accurate. "[B]oth participles are used in the formation of a variety of complex tenses and can be used for referring to past, present, or future time . . . . Preferred terms are -ing form (which also includes gerund) and -en form (or -ed form) (Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, 1994).

See also:


From the Latin, "share, partake, participate"

Examples and Observations:

  • "As modifiers of nouns, present and past participles of verbs function very much like adjectives. Indeed, they are sometimes regarded as adjectives when they modify nouns. A present participle attributes a quality of action to the noun, which is viewed as undertaking the action, as retreating of legs in [109]. A past participle views the noun as having undergone the action expressed by the participle, as prefabricated of buildings in [110].
    [109] . . . the cripple's envy at his straight, retreating legs
    [110] various prefabricated buildings
    Thus, the present is an 'active' participle and the past is a 'passive' participle."
    (Howard Jackson, Grammar and Meaning. Longman, 1990)

  • "When the participle is a single word--the verb with no complements or modifiers--it usually occupies the adjective slot in preheadword position:
    Our snoring visitor kept the household awake.
    The barking dog next door drives us crazy.
    ". . . While the single-word participle generally fills the preheadword adjective slot, it too can sometimes open the sentence--and with considerable drama:
    Exasperated, she made the decision to leave immediately.
    Outraged, the entire committee resigned.
    You'll notice that both of these openers are past participles, rather than the -ing present participle form; they are, in fact, the passive voice."
    (Martha Kolln, Rhetorical Grammar. Pearson, 2007)
  • Examples of Present Participles

    "God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

    "Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing."
    (Robert Benchley)

    "The ducks come on swift, silent wings, gliding through the treetops as if guided by radar, twisting, turning, never touching a twig in that thick growth of trees that surrounded the lake."
    (Jack Denton Scott, "The Wondrous Wood Duck")

  • Examples of Past Participles

    "One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away.
    (Willa Cather, O Pioneers!)

    "The Bible's Jezebel came to an ugly end. Thrown from a balcony, trampled by horses, and devoured by dogs, the middle-aged queen has had few good days since."
    (Review of Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen by Lesley Hazleton. The Week, Nov. 29, 2007)

    "I believe in broken, fractured, complicated narratives, but I believe in narratives as a vehicle for truth, not simply as a form of entertainment."
    (Stephen Greenblatt)

  • Examples of Present and Past Participial Phrases
    "Leaking from restaurant walls, beamed into airports as they landed and automobiles as they crashed, chiming from steeples, thundering from parade grounds, tingling through apartment walls, carried through the streets in small boxes, violating even the peace of desert and the forest, where drive-ins featured blue musical comedies, music at first overwhelmed, then delighted, then disgusted, and finally bored them"
    (John Updike, "The Chaste Planet." Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism. Knopf, 1983)
Pronunciation: PAR-ti-sip-ul
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Paired Construction - Quotative
  6. participle - definition and examples of present and past participles in English grammar

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.