You are on page 1of 2

The forms of the participle

Active Passive

Present participle writing being written

Perfect participle having written having been written

Past participle written written

Present participle
The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the base form of the verb. Note the changes in
spelling:

read reading study studying grow growing relax relaxing


answer answering write writing; argue arguing (a final -e is omitted)
agree agreeing (a final -ee does not change)
lie lying (a final -ie changes to -y-)
put putting; regret regretting; readmit readmitting (we double the final consonant if the
verb ends in consonant-vowel-consonant, with the exception of w, x and y, and only has one
syllable or has the stress on the last syllable); travel travelling; cancel cancelling (verbs
ending in l regardless of stress in British English)

The present participle does not in itself indicate the time of the action that it refers to. However,
it does show that this time is the same as the time of the preceding verb or the verb in the main
clause:

I watched the storm approaching. (approaching refers to the same time as watched: I watched as
the storm was approaching.)
Having nowhere to sit, she stood in the back of the lecture hall. (having refers to the same time
as stood: As she had nowhere to sit, she stood in the back of the lecture hall.)
Are you waiting for the bus? (waiting refers to the same time as are: present)
We will be arriving in Prague soon. (arriving refers to the same time as will be: future)

Perfect participle
The perfect participle indicates that the time of the action that it refers to is before that of
the verb in the main clause:

Having taken the wrong turn, he ended up in a dangerous neighbourhood. (having taken refers to
a time before ended up: After he had taken the wrong turn, he ended up in a dangerous
neighbourhood.)
Past participle
The past participle is also called the third form of the verb. With regular verbs, the past participle is
formed by adding -ed to the base form. Note the changes in spelling:

look looked

stay stayed

arrive arrived (we only add -d if the verb ends in -e)

try tried (a final -y changes to -i- after a consonant)

stop stopped (we double the final consonant if the verb ends in consonant-vowel-
consonant)

A number of verbs have irregular past participle forms. A few examples are:

bite bitten fly flown hit hit

leave left swim swum

See the Appendix for a list of the most common irregular verbs in English.

The past participle can refer to the same time as the verb in the main clause or to a time before
that:

Sue has all the qualifications required for the job. (required refers to the same time as has: Sue
has all the qualifications that are required for the job.)

Damaged badly by the flood, the school had to be rebuilt. (damaged refers to a time before had
to: As the school had been badly damaged by the flood, it had to be rebuilt.)

If we want to emphasise an earlier time, we use the passive perfect participle:

Having been nominated three times for an Oscar, he is one of today's most acclaimed film
directors. (He has been nominated three times for an Oscar, and he is one of today's most
acclaimed film directors.)

The past participle can have an active or a passive meaning. When used with a passive meaning, it
is sometimes called the passive participle:

The fallen leaves covered the garden path. (the leaves that had fallen, active meaning)
This is the first time I've been here. (present perfect tense in active voice, active meaning)

There was a handwritten note on the table. (a note that had been written by hand, passive
meaning)
When was the last time the lawn was mowed? (past simple tense in passive voice, passive
meaning)