Grammar Tips: Participles
  • 3-minute read
  • 12th September 2023

Grammar Tips: Participles

In English grammar, participles are essential elements of writing. Understanding how participles work and how to use them correctly can elevate your communication skills to new heights.

In this post, we delve into the world of participles, exploring what they are, how they function, and how to use them effectively.

What Are Participles?

Participles are verb forms that can function as adjectives or help form some verb tenses. There are two main types of participles: the present participle and the past participle.

Present Participle

Present participles typically end in ing and are used to describe a present or future ongoing action or state:

The dancing flames are mesmerizing the audience.

She will be looking at the glowing stars tonight.

Past Participle

This form is often used to describe actions or states that have already been completed:

He has spoken with the manager about the issue.

Past participles can also function as adjectives in passive voice constructions:

The broken window needs to be repaired.

Regular past participles usually end in ed, but there are irregular ones that follow unique patterns.

How Participles Work

Participles can serve multiple functions in a sentence, making them versatile and valuable tools for effective communication. As adjectives, participles can be used to modify nouns:

The falling leaves covered the ground.

She wore a dress with a stunning design.

In verb tenses, participles serve an integral role. They’re used to create the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tenses:

Present perfect: I have lived here for five years now.

Past perfect: They had eaten all the pizza before I arrived.

Future perfect: By this time tomorrow, I will have finished my report.

Past participles are also essential in passive voice constructions, where the performer of the main action assumes a passive role:

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The cake was baked by my grandmother.

The novel was written by a talented author.

Past participles are also essential in passive voice constructions, where the performer of the main action assumes a passive role:

How to Use Participles Effectively

To use participles effectively, watch out for the following.


Make sure you maintain consistency with verb tenses when using participles in a sentence:

She is singing while he played the piano.
She is singing while he plays the piano.

Dangling Participles

Participles need to have a clear and logical connection to the nouns they modify. Be aware of dangling participles, which lack clarity.

Walking to the store, the rain began to fall.

Walking to the store, I felt the rain begin to fall.


Participles are an unavoidable part of English grammar. Understanding what they are and how they work can take your writing to the next level.

But if you’re not sure you’re using them correctly, our editors would be happy to check your work. We’ll ensure you use perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and more! Try it out for free today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are participles?

In simple terms, participles are words derived from verbs that can be used as adjectives.

What are examples of past and present participles?

Present participles end in ing, such as shining, and past participles often end in ed, such as laughed.

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