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Participial Adjectives

Both present and past participles can be used as adjectives. How can you tell the difference between the two?

A. One way to understand these two forms has to do with cause and effect.

1. Present participles are the cause of something.

2. Past participles show the person or thing has received an effect.

For example:

The movie was frightening the children.

Explanation: In this example, the movie is the cause of the children being afraid.

The children were frightened by the movie.

Explanation: In this example, the children received the action of the past participle.

B. One can also view these two forms as the present participle making something happen and past participle
describing a state of being.

For example:

The explanations were very confusing.

The students were very confused.

Let’s work with some other verbs.

Use the present or past participial form of the word given in parentheses depending on the meaning of the

1. The (bore) meeting lasted forever.

2. I really love working with (excite) people.
3. The (lose) team said they would win the next game.
4. When Jane couldn’t find her credit card, her (worry) mother called the credit card
company to cancel it.
5. I don’t understand chess, the rules are very (confuse) _________________.
6. Amanda got 90 for her Chemistry. She was (satisfy) _________________ with her results.
7. Some people are totally (fascinate) by the book that describes some codes in
Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings.
8. The da Vinci Code tells a very (fascinate) story.
9. Students who are (interest) in signing up for the history class should make a
line here.
10. Professors become extremely (annoy) when cell phones go off in their classes.

II. Fill in the gaps using either the Present Perfect or the Simple Past.

Last week I ___________ (meet) an old lady called Cindy. She _________ (be) eighty-two.

She _________ (be) a beggar. She __________ (talk) to me and I _______________

(hear) the story of her entire life. I _________ (feel) so sad when she

____________(finish) it that I almost _________ (cry). As I ___________ (feel) sorry

for her, I _____________ (give) Cindy some money.

This morning something wonderful and amazing __________ (happen) to me. I

____________ (meet) Cindy again, but, my goodness, she _________(be) different. She

told me the following.

“Since you ___________ (give) me that money my life _________ (change) completely.

With the money you _____________ (give) me I __________(buy) a lottery ticket and I

____________ (win). I _____________ (buy) myself a house where I’m living now. I

_____________ (also buy) some new clothes, a TV set … you can’t imagine how happy I am!

I _________ (be) so astonished that I couldn’t even say a word. I __________(follow) her

and … surprise! She had bought me a yellow Ferrari.

III. Fill in the gaps using either the Past Simple or the Past Continuous.

A few years ago, I was on holiday in Greece. On my last night I __________ (dance) in the

disco when I suddenly __________ (realise) the time. It was 4.00am and I ___________

(have) to get to the airport to catch my plane at 5.00am. When I ___________ (arrive) at

the airport I __________ (decide) to go to the shops. While I ____________ (shop) I

___________ (listen) for my plane but I _________ (not hear) anything. Then, I

___________ (see) a plane leave. I suddenly ____________ (realise) that it was my plane.

I ___________ (look) for someone who spoke English when two policemen

________________ (arrest) me. They ___________ (think) I was a terrorist because I

____________ (miss) my plane while I ______________ (be) in the airport. The policemen

_____________ (lock) me in a room until the plane arrived safely in England.