1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

past participle


past participle

Two examples of past participles


The third principal part of a verb, created by adding -ed, -d, or -t to the base form of a regular verb. (The past participle forms of regular verbs--such as looked, worked, and wished--are identical to the past tense.)

The past participle forms of irregular verbs have various endings, including -d (said), -t (slept), and -n (broken). Another term for past participle is "-en" form.

The past participle is used with the auxiliary has, have, or had to express the perfect aspect. In addition, the past participle is used with the auxiliary be to express the passive voice.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "I'm always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence."
    (Alice Walker)

  • "All that had occurred was that Psmith, finding Mr Cootes's eye and pistol functioning in another direction, had sprung forward, snatched up a chair, hit the unfortunate man over the head with it, relieved him of his pistol, leaped to the mantlepiece, removed the revolver which lay there, and now, holding both weapons in an attitude of menace, was regarding him censoriously through a gleaming eyeglass."
    (P.G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Psmith, 1923)

  • "Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like."
    (Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid. HarperCollins, 2007)

  • "Frowned upon as unspeakably common by some gardeners, the gnome is often viewed as a rather crude decoration, which has not been helped by the introduction of mooning gnomes and even naked gnomes."
    ("Notes on a Small Island: The Things That Really Make Britain Great." The Independent, Aug. 28, 2008)

  • "A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory."
    (Arthur Golden)

  • "Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes. I must have lain long in the grass, for the shadow that was in front of me when I left the house had disappeared when I went back."
    (Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970)

  • "Though many have tried, no one has ever yet explained away the decisive fact that science, which can do so much, cannot decide what it ought to do."
    (Joseph Wood Krutch)

  • "Underwear should be worn on the inside."
    (Bart Simpson, The Simpsons)

  • "The past participle can indicate past, present, and future meanings.
    1. Thus deceived, he will be outraged. [both actions in the future]

    2. Baffled by your attitude, I cannot help you. [both actions in the present]

    3. Baffled by your attitude, I could not help you. [both actions in the past]
    The past participle has both perfect and progressive forms:
    1. Having been discovered, the thief confessed.

    2. Being watched, he could only pretend to be nonchalant.
    (Vincent F. Hopper, et al., Essentials of English, 5th ed. 2000)

  • "verbs: past tenses -t/-ed Both forms of ending are acceptable in British English, but the -t form is dominant--burnt, learnt, spelt--whereas American English uses -ed: burned, learned, spelled. Contrarily, British English uses -ed for the past tense and the past participle of certain verbs--quitted, sweated--while American English uses the infinitive spelling--quit, sweat. Some verbs have a different form of past tense and past participle, eg, the past tense of dive is dived in British English but dove in American English."
    (The Economist Style Guide, 10th ed. Profile Books, 2010)
Also Known As: passive participle, -ed participle, -ed clause
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Paired Construction - Quotative
  6. past participle - definition and examples of past participles - glossary of grammatical terms

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.