Teaching Participles - Participial Adjectives

A Participle or Participial Adjective is a present or past participle that functions as an adjective. It can modify a noun or pronoun. It may be the present participle (verb + ing), a regular past participle (verb + ed), or an irregular past participle. 

  • Pres. Participle: Is there a swimming pool in this school?
  • Reg. Past Participle: They were very tired.
  • Irreg. Past Participle: He fixed the broken clock.

While most participial adjectives are formed from verbs, a few are formed from other parts of speech.

  • talent - talented
  • gift - gifted
  • thrill - thrilling

    Reasons to Use a Participle

    1. Participles can describe things or people.

    • Space is an interesting topic. She is an interesting person.
    • The drawing paper is missing. He is a drawing teacher.
    • The stunned animal was in shock. She looks stunning!

    2. Participles may indicate a purpose or use of an object.

    • Swimming pool
    • Coloring book
    • Knitting needles

    3. Participles often describe how a person feels.

    • She is interested in science.
    • They are excited.
    • I am confused.

    4. Participles describe a condition.

    • The broken wheel was horribly bent.
    • The stolen jewelry was found.
    • The buried treasure was never found.

    Position in a Sentence

    1. Before a Noun

    • The sleeping children were unaware of the party below.
    • The gifted student graduated at age 14.
    • The are very committed athletes. 

    2. After a Linking Verb as a Subject Complement

    • The class was boring.
    • The movie was exciting.
    • Her dress is stunning.


      Participles can also be used for comparisons in the positive, comparative and superlative degrees.

      Positive Form: as + Participle + as
      Comparative Form: more + Participle + than
      Superlative Form: the most / least + Participle
      • Positive: He is as worried as I am.
      • Comparative: He is more worried than I am.
      • Superlative: He is the most worried of us all.
      • Positive: The sequel is as exciting as the original movie.
      • Comparative: The sequel is more exciting than the original movie.
      • Superlative: It is the most exciting movie in the series.

      Participle Phrases

      Participle phrases describe or give information about a noun.
      • The person injured in the accident went to the hospital.
      • The men sitting by the road were eating lunch.
      • There are many cars parked outside.
      • He did his homework sitting in the library.

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