In linguistics, a participle (from Latin "participium", a calque of Greek μετοχη "partaking") is a derivative of a non-finite verb, which can be used in compound tenses or voices, or as a modifier. Participles often share properties with other parts of speech, in particular adjectives and nouns.

Participles in Modern English

English verbs have two participles:
# called variously the "present", "active", "imperfect", or "progressive participle", is identical in form to the gerund, and indeed the term "present participle" is sometimes used to include the gerund. The term "gerund-participle" is also used.
# called variously the "past", "passive", or "perfect participle", is usually identical to the verb's preterite (past tense) form, though in irregular verbs the two usually differ.

Examples of participle formation include:

The present participle in English is active. It has the following uses:
*forming the progressive aspect: "Jim was sleeping."
*modifying a noun: "Let sleeping dogs lie."
*modifying a verb or sentence: "Broadly speaking, the project was successful."The present participle in English has the same form as the gerund, but the gerund acts as a noun rather than a verb or a modifier. The word "sleeping" in "Your job description does not include sleeping" is a gerund and not a present participle.

The past participle has both active and passive uses:
*forming the perfect aspect: "The chicken has eaten."
*forming the passive voice: "The chicken was eaten."
*modifying a noun, active sense: "our fallen comrades"
*modifying a noun, passive sense: "the attached files"
*modifying a verb or sentence, passive sense: "Seen from this perspective, the problem presents no easy solution."

As noun-modifiers, participles usually precede the noun (like adjectives), but in many cases they can or must follow it:
*"Please bring all the documents required."
*"The difficulties encountered were nearly insurmountable."

Participles in other languages

ireniki Eskimo

Sireniki Eskimo language, an extinct Eskimo-Aleut language, has separate sets of "adverbial participles" and "adjectival participles". Interestingly, adverbial participles are conjugated to reflect the person and number of their implicit subjects; hence, while in English a sentence like "If "I" were a marksman, "we" would kill walrus" requires two full clauses (in order to distinguish the two verbs' different subjects), in Sireniki Eskimo one of these may be replaced with an adverbial participle (since its conjugation will indicate the subject).


The Arabic verb has two participles: an active participle (اسم الفاعل) and a passive participle (اسم المفعول ), and the form of the participle is predictable by inspection of the dictionary form of the verb (see Arabic grammar). These participles are inflected for gender, number and case, but not person. Arabic participles are employed syntactically in a variety of ways: as nouns, as adjectives or even as verbs. Their uses vary across varieties of Arabic. In general the active participle describes a property of the syntactic subject of the verb from which it is derived, whilst the passive participles describes the object. For example, from the verb كتب kataba, the active participle is kaatibun كاتب and the passive participle is maktuubun مكتوب. Roughly these translate to "writing" and "written" respectively. However, they have different, derived lexical uses. كاتب kaatibun is further lexicalized as "writer", "author" and مكتوب maktuubun as "letter".

In Classical Arabic these participles do not participate in verbal constructions with auxiliaries the same way as their English counterparts do, and rarely take on a verbal meaning in a sentence (a notable exception being participles derived from verbs of motion as well as participles in Qur'anic Arabic). In certain dialects of Arabic however, it is much more common for the participles, especially the active participle, to have verbal force in the sentence. For example, in dialects of the Levant, the active participle is a structure which describes the state of the syntactic subject after the action of the verb from which it is derived has taken place. "Aakel", the active participle of "akal" ("to eat"), describes one's state after having eaten something. Therefore it can be used in analogous way to the English present perfect tense (i.e.,Ana aakel انا آكل meaning "I have eaten", "I have just eaten" or "I have already eaten"). Other verbs, such as "raaH" راح ("to go") give a participle ("raayeH" رايح) which has a progressive ("is going...") meaning. The exact tense or continuity of these participles is therefore determined by the nature of the specific verb (especially its Aktionsart and its transitivity) and the syntactic/semantic context of the utterance. What ties them all together is that they describe the subject of the verb from which they are derived. The passive participles in certain dialects can be used as a sort of passive voice, but more often than not, are used in their various lexicalized senses as adjectives or nouns.


Compared with English, Latin has an additional future tense participle:

* present active participle: "educāns" "teaching"
* perfect passive participle: "educatus" "(having been) taught"
* future active participle: "educātūrus" "about to teach"
* future passive participle: "educāndus" "(necessary) to be taught"


Among Indo-European languages, Lithuanian language is unique for having thirteen different participial forms of the verb, that can be grouped into five when accounting for inflection by tense. Some of these are also inflected by gender and case. For example, the verb "eiti" ("to go, to walk") has the active participle form "einąs/einantis" ("going, walking", present tense), the passive participle form "einamas" ("being walked", present tense), the adverbial participle "einant" ("while it is being walked"), the semi-participle "eidamas" ("while [he is/was] going, walking") and the participle of necessity "eitinas" ("that which needs to be walked"). The first three of those five are inflected by tense, while the active, passive and the semi- participles are inflected by gender and the active, passive and necessity ones are inflected by case.


There are two basic participles:
*Present participle: formed with the verb root + "ant", hence "marchant" "walking", "étant" "being"
*Past participle: formation varies according to verb group, hence "marché" "walked", "été" "been", "vendu" "sold", "mis" "placed", and "fait" "done". The past participle requires agreement with the gender of any preceding direct object.

The French present participle, however, is not used to mark the continuous aspect as it is in English.

Compound participles are possible:
*Present perfect participle: "ayant appelé" "having called", "étant mort" "being dead"
*Passive perfect participle: "étant vendu" "being sold, having been sold"


In Spanish, the present or active participle ("participio activo" or "participio de presente") of a verb is traditionally formed with one of the suffixes "-ante, -ente" or "-iente", but modern grammar does not consider it a verbal form any longer, as they become adjectives or nouns on their own: e.g. "amante" "loving", "viviente" "living" or "live".

The continuous is constructed much as in English, using a conjugated form of "estar" ("to be") plus the "gerundio" (sometimes called a verbal adverb or adverbial participle as it does not decline) with the suffixes "-ando, -endo" or "-iendo": for example, "estar haciendo" means "to be doing" ("haciendo" being the "gerundio" of "hacer", "to do"), and there are related constructions such as "seguir haciendo" meaning "to keep doing" ("seguir" being "to continue").

The past participle ("participio pasado" or "pasivo") is regularly formed with one of the suffixes "-ado", "-ido", but several verbs have an irregular form ending in "-to" (e.g. "escrito, visto"), or "-cho" (e.g. "dicho, hecho"). The past participle is used generally as an adjective meaning a finished action, or to form the passive voice, and it is variable in gender and number in these uses; and also it is used to form the compound tenses (as in English) in which it has only one form, the singular male one. Some examples:

;As an adjective
*"las cartas escritas" "the written letters";In the passive voice
*"Los ladrones fueron capturados" "The thieves were caught.";To form compound tenses
*"Ella ha escrito una carta." "She has written a letter."


Verb: tehdä (to do)

Present active: teke"vä"
Present passive: teh"tävä"
Past active: teh"nyt"
Past passive: teh"ty"
Agent participle (passive): teke"mä" (done by...)


Verb: слышать slyšat' (to hear, imperfective aspect)

Present active: слышащий slyšaščij "hearing", "who hears"
Present passive: слышимый slyšimyj "being heard", "that is heard", "able to be heard"
Past active: слышавший slyšavšij "who heard"
Past passive: слышанный slyšannyj "that was heard"
Adverbial present active: слыша slyša "(while) hearing"
Adverbial past active: слышав slyšav "having been hearing"

Verb: услышать uslyšat' (to hear, perfective aspect)

Past active: услышавший uslyšavšyj "who has heard"
Past passive: услышанный uslyšannyj "that has been heard"
Adverbial past active: услышав uslyšav "having heard"


Verb: правя pravja (to do, imperfective aspect)

Present active: правещ pravešt
Past active aorist: правил pravil
Past active imperfect: правел pravel (only used in verbal constructions)
Past passive: правен praven
Adverbial present active: правейки pravejki

Verb: направя napravja (to do, perfective aspect)
Past active aorist: направил napravil
Past active imperfect: направел napravel (only used in verbal constructions)
Past passive: направен napraven

Kinds of participles in various languages

Adverbial and adjectival

In some languages, a distinction between adverbial participle and adjectival participle can be made. Among these is Esperanto. See причастие and деепричастие in Russian grammar, határozói igenév and melléknévi igenév in Hungarian grammar, or imiesłów in Polish grammar. Also many Eskimo languages make such a distinction, see for details e.g. the sophisticated participle system of Sireniki Eskimo.

ee also

*Hanging participle
*Adjectival participle
*Adverbial participle

External links

* [ List of English simple past and past participle verb forms from]


* [ Participles] from the "American Heritage Book of English Usage" (1996).

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  • Participle — Par ti*ci*ple, n. [F. participe, L. participium, fr. particeps sharing, participant; pars, gen. partis, a part + capere to take. See {Participate}.] 1. (Gram.) A part of speech partaking of the nature of both verb and adjective; a form of a verb …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • participle — [pärt′i sip΄əl] n. [OFr < L participium < particeps, participating, partaking < participare,PARTICIPATE: from participating in the nature of both v. & adj.] Gram. a verbal form having some characteristics and functions of both verb and… …   English World dictionary

  • participle — (n.) late 14c., a noun adjective, from O.Fr. participle, variant of participe, from L. participium, lit. a sharing, partaking, from particeps partaker (see PARTICIPATION (Cf. participation)). In grammatical sense, the Latin translates Gk. metokhe …   Etymology dictionary

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  • participle — [14] The etymological notion underlying participle is of a word that shares or ‘partakes’ of the dual nature of an adjective and a noun. It comes via Old French participle from Latin participium, a derivative of particeps ‘partaker’ (the usage… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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  • participle — par•ti•ci•ple [[t]ˈpɑr təˌsɪp əl, sə pəl[/t]] n. gram. a nonfinite verbal form that can function as an adjective or be used with certain auxiliaries to make compound verb forms, as burning in a burning candle or devoted in your devoted friend.… …   From formal English to slang

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