Form of a verb which is used in a sentence to modify a noun or noun phrase
A participle (PTCP) is a linguistics term for a certain class of nonfinite verb forms whose sentence function varies according to the contextual structure in which the participle occurs. Depending on the context, a participle may function adverbially or as an adjective. Its name derives from the Latin participium, a calque of Greek μετοχή (metokhḗ) "partaking" or "sharing"; because the Ancient Greek and Latin participles evince some analogous adverbial attributes and adjectival characteristics vis-à-vis nouns (gender, number, case) as well as verbs (tense and voice).
Like other parts of the verb, participles can be either active (e.g. breaking) or passive (e.g. broken). Participles are also often associated with certain verbal aspects or tenses. The two types of participle in English are traditionally called the present participle (forms such as writing, singing and raising) and the past participle (forms such as written, sung and raised).
Participles can be used as an adjective:
A broken window.
A fallen tree.
An interesting book.
Another use is in a phrase which serves as a shortened form of a relative clause:
A window broken by the wind.
A woman wearing a red hat.
These phrases are equivalent to
A window that was broken by the wind.
A woman who was wearing a red hat.
Such participle phrases generally follow the noun they describe, just as relative clauses do.
With drawn sword, he came to the sleepingLucretia.
In the above sentence, the participles can be interpreted as equivalent to an adverbial clause of time, namely "after he had drawn his sword", and "when she was sleeping".
A verb phrase based on a participle is called a participle phrase or participial phrase (participial is an adjective derived from participle). For example, wearing a hat and broken by the wind are participial phrases based respectively on an English present participle and past participle. Since these phrases are equivalent to a clause, they may also be called a participle clause or participial clause. Participial clauses generally do not have an expressed grammatical subject; but occasionally a participial clause does include a subject, as in the English nominative absolute construction The king having died, ... .
A fourth use of participles in some languages is in combination with an auxiliary verb such as "has" or "is" to make a compound or periphrastic verb tense which in other languages can often be expressed by a single word:
He had drawn his sword (= Latin strinxerat). She was sleeping (= Latin dormiebat).
Types of participle
Participles are often connected to certain grammatical tenses or grammatical aspects. The two types of participle in Modern English are termed present participle and past participle, respectively. However, Crystal indicated that "there is a tendency to avoid the traditional terms (and use terms like -ing form and -ed/-en form instead)". Other grammar books also noted that the terms do not imply that they are tensed forms. The traditional terms are misleading because the present participle is often associated with the progressive (continuous) aspect, while the past participle is linked with the perfect aspect or passive voice. See the examples below:
By the time you get home I will have cleaned the house.
The first sentence is in the past tense, but a present participle was used to express the progressive aspect. The second sentence is in the future tense, but a past participle was used for the perfect meaning.
Participles may also be identified with a particular voice: active or passive. Some languages (such as Latin and Russian) have distinct participles for active and passive uses. In English, the present participle is essentially an active participle, while the past participle has both active and passive uses.
The following examples illustrate this:
I saw John eating his dinner. (Here eating is an active present participle).
The bus has gone. (Here gone is an active past participle).
The window was broken with a rock. (Here broken is a passive past participle)
A distinction is also sometimes made between adjectival participles and adverbial participles. An adverbial participle (or a participial phrase/clause based on such a participle) plays the role of an adverbial (adverb phrase) in the sentence in which it appears, whereas an adjectival participle (or a participial phrase/clause based on one) plays the role of an adjective phrase. Some languages have different forms for the two types of participle; such languages include Russian and other Slavic languages, Hungarian, and many Eskimo languages, such as Sireniki, which has a sophisticated participle system. Details can be found in the sections below or in the articles on the grammars of specific languages.
Some descriptive grammars treat adverbial and adjectival participles as distinct lexical categories, while others include them both in a single category of participles. Sometimes different names are used; adverbial participles in certain languages may be called converbs, gerunds, or gerundives (though this is not consistent with the meanings of the terms gerund or gerundive as normally applied to English or Latin), or transgressives.
Participles can be used adjectivally (i.e. without characteristics of canonical verbs) as attributive adjectives. They then take neither object complements nor modifiers that are typical of canonical verbs, but adjectivally attributive participles are capable of being modified by adverbs such as very or slightly. The difference is illustrated by the following examples:
The subject interesting him at the moment is Greek history.
Greek history is a very interesting subject.
In the first sentence interesting functions transitively as a nonfinite verb that takes the object him, thereby forming the phrase interesting him, which constitutes an adjectival phrase that modifies the noun, subject. However, in the second sentence interesting functions non-transitively; it instead acts as a prepositive adjective that can be modified by typical adverbs such as very or quite (or a prefix such as un-). Similar examples are "interested people", "a frightened rabbit", "fallen leaves", "meat-eating animals".
In Old English, past participles of Germanic strong verbs were marked with a ge- prefix, as are most strong and weak past participles in Dutch and German today, and often by a vowel change in the stem. Those of weak verbs were marked by the ending -d, with or without an epenthetic vowel before it. Modern English past participles derive from these forms (although the ge- prefix, which became y- in Middle English, has now been lost — except in some rare dialects such as the Dorset dialect, where it takes the form of a-).
Old English present participles were marked with an ending in -ende (or -iende for verbs whose infinitives ended in -ian).
In Middle English, the form of the present participle varied across regions: -ende (southwest, southeast, Midlands), -inde (southwest, southeast), -and (north), -inge (southeast). The last is the one that became standard, falling together with the suffix -ing used to form verbal nouns. See -ing (etymology).
The present participle, also sometimes called the active, imperfect, or progressive participle, takes the ending -ing, for example doing, seeing, working, running. It is identical in form to the verbal noun and gerund (see below). The term present participle is sometimes used to include the gerund; and the term "gerund–participle" is also used.
The past participle, also sometimes called the passive or perfect participle, is identical to the past tense form (ending in -ed) in the case of regular verbs, for example "loaded", "boiled", "mounted", but takes various forms in the case of irregular verbs, such as done, sung, written, put, gone, etc.
In addition various compound participles can be formed, such as having done, being done, having been doing, having been done.
adverbially: Eaten in this manner, the chicken presents no problem.
in a nominative absolute construction, with a subject: The chicken eaten, we returned home.
Both types of participles are also often used adjectivally (see § Types of participle above). For instance:
"An exciting adventure" (i.e. one that excites) demonstrates a present participle that is used in an attributive sense.
"The attached files" (i.e. those that are attached) and "Our fallen comrades" (i.e. those who have fallen) demonstrate past participles that are used in an attributive sense.
Note, however, that a past participle that complements a stative verb (e.g., "The files that are attached or "Our comrades who have fallen) becomes a passive participle within a passive voice construct. Additionally, participles that express an adjectivally attributive meaning can be affixed to form adverbs, such as interestingly and excitedly.
The gerund is distinct from the present participle. A gerund can function transitively (e.g., "I like eating ice cream) or intransitively (e.g., "I like swimming). In both instances, a gerund functions nominatively rather than adjectivally or adverbially whether as an object (e.g., "I like sleeping") or as a subject (e.g., "Sleeping is not allowed.") Although gerunds and present participles are morphologically identical, their grammatical functions differ substantially. Sometimes their morphological similarity can create contextual ambiguity, as Noam Chomsky pointed out in his well-known example:
Flying planes can be dangerous.
When the meaning is "The practice of flying a plane is dangerous," flying functions as a gerund; when the meaning is "Planes that fly" or "Planes when they are flying" (i.e., in contrast to grounded planes), flying is being used adjectivally as a participle.
For more on the distinctions between these uses of the -ing verb form, see -ing: uses.
In all of the Scandinavian languages the past participle has to agree with the noun to some degree. All of the Scandinavian languages have mandatory agreement with the noun in number. Nynorsk and Swedish have mandatory agreement in both number and gender. Icelandic and Faroese have agreement in number, gender and case. For the present participle there is no agreement.
Latin grammar was studied in Europe for hundreds of years, especially the handbook written by the 4th-century teacher Aelius Donatus, and it is from Latin that the name and concept of the participle derives. According to Donatus there are four participles in Latin, as follows:
future participle: supine stem + -ūrus, -ūra, -ūrum; e.g. lēctūrus "going to read", "due to read"
gerundive (sometimes considered the future passive participle): e.g. legendus "due to be read", "necessary to be read"
However, many modern Latin grammars treat the gerundive as a separate part of speech.
The perfect participle is usually passive in meaning, and thus mainly formed from transitive verbs, for example frāctus "broken", missus "sent (by someone)". However, certain verbs (called deponent verbs) have a perfect participle in an active sense, e.g. profectus "having set out", hortātus "having encouraged", etc. The present and future participles are always active, the gerundive usually passive.
Because a participle is an adjective as well as a verb, just like any other Latin adjective its ending changes according to the noun it describes. So when the noun is masculine, the participle must be masculine; when the noun is in the accusative (object) case, the participle is also in the accusative case; when the noun has plural endings, the participle also has plural endings. Thus a simple participle such as frāctus "broken" can change to frācta, frāctum, frāctī, frāctō and so on, according to its gender, number, and case.
A participle can have a descriptive meaning like an adjective, or a more dynamic meaning like a verb. Thus in the following sentence the participle strīctō "drawn" is better taken as describing an action ("he drew his sword" or "after drawing his sword") rather than as describing the sword ("with a drawn sword"):
Strīctō gladiō ad dormientem Lucrētiam vēnit. "With drawn sword he came to the sleeping Lucretia."
The dynamic, verbal meaning is more common, and Latin often uses a participle where English might use a simple verb.
The present participle often describes the circumstances attending the main verb. A typical example is:
Balbus ad mē vēnit currēns. "Balbus came to me running."
Both the future and the perfect participle (but not the present participle) can be used with various tenses of the verb esse "to be" to make a compound tense such as the future-in-the-past or the perfect passive:
Eō diē Rōmam ventūrus erat. "On that day he was going to return to Rome."
Occīsus est ā Thēbānīs. "He was killed by the Thebans."
The perfect and future participles can also be used, with or without the verb esse "to be", in indirect speech clauses:
(Dīxit eōs) locum facile inventūrōs (esse). "He said that they were easily going to find the place / He said that they would find the place easily."
Present active participle: formed by dropping the -ons of the nous form of the present tense of a verb (except with être and avoir) and then adding ant: marchant "walking", étant "being", ayant "having".
Past participle: formation varies according to verb group: vendu "sold", mis "placed", marché "walked", été "been", and fait "done". The sense of the past participle is passive as an adjective and in most verbal constructions with "avoir", but active in verbal constructions with "être", in reflexive constructions, and with some intransitive verbs.
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"
Present participles are used as qualifiers as in "un insecte volant" (a flying insect) and in some other contexts. They are never used to form tenses. The present participle is used in subordinate clauses, usually with en: "Je marche, en parlant".
Past participles are used as qualifiers for nouns: "la table cassée" (the broken table); to form compound tenses such as the perfect "Vous avez dit" (you have said) and to form the passive voice: "il a été tué" (he/it has been killed).
In Spanish, the so-called 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 true participle, as such forms usually have the meaning of simple adjectives or nouns: e.g. amante "loving" or "lover", viviente "living" or "live".
Another participial form is known as the gerundio, which ends in an (unchanging) suffix -ando, -endo, or -iendo. The gerundio is used in combination with the verb estar ("to be") to make continuous tenses: 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"). Another use is in phrases such as vino corriendo ("he/she came running") and lo vi corriendo ("I saw him running").
The past participle (participio pasado or participio pasivo) is regularly formed with one of the suffixes -ado or -ido; but some verbs have an irregular form ending in -to (e.g. escrito, visto, puesto), or -cho (e.g. dicho, hecho). The past participle is used generally as an adjective referring to a finished action, in which case its ending changes according to gender and number. At other times is used to form compound tenses (as in English), in which case it is indeclinable. Some examples:
As an adjective:
las cartas escritas "the written letters"
To form compound tenses:
Ha escrito una carta. "She (he, it) has written a letter."
The Ancient Greek participle shares in the properties of adjectives and verbs. Like an adjective, it changes form for gender, case, and number. Like a verb, it has tense and voice, is modified by adverbs, and can take verb arguments, including an object. Participles are quite numerous in Ancient Greek: a non-defective verb has as many as ten participles.
There is a form of the participle for every combination of tense (present, aorist, perfect, future) and voice (active, middle, passive). All participles are based on the stems of the corresponding tenses. Here are the masculine nominative singular forms for a thematic and an athematic verb:
λῡ́ω lū́ō "I release"
τίθημι títhēmi "I put"
Like an adjective, it can modify a noun, and can be used to embed one thought into another.
πολλὰ καὶ φύσει καὶ ἐπιστήμῃ δεῖ τὸν εὖ στρατηγήσοντα ἔχειν pollà kaì phúsei kaì epistḗmēi deî tòn eû stratēgḗsonta ékhein "he who intends to be a good general must have a great deal of ability and knowledge"
In the example, the participial phrase τὸν εὖ στρατηγήσονταtòn eû stratēgḗsonta, literally "the one going to be a good general," is used to embed the idea εὖ στρατηγήσειeû stratēgḗsei "he will be a good general" within the main verb.
The participle is very widely used in Ancient Greek, especially in prose.
In Welsh, the effect of a participle in the active voice is constructed by yn followed by the verb-noun (for the present participle) and wedi followed by the verb-noun (for the past participle). There is no mutation in either case. In the passive voice, participles are usually replaced by a compound phrase such as wedi cael ei/eu ("having got his/her/their ...ing") in contemporary Welsh and by the impersonal form in classical Welsh.
The Polish word for participle is imiesłów (pl.: imiesłowy). There are four types of imiesłowy in two classes:
Adjectival participle (imiesłów przymiotnikowy):
active adjectival participle (imiesłów przymiotnikowy czynny): robiący – "doing", "one who does"
passive adjectival participle (imiesłów przymiotnikowy bierny): robiony – "being done" (can only be formed off transitive verbs)
perfect adverbial participle (imiesłów przysłówkowy uprzedni): zrobiwszy – "having done" (formed in virtually all cases off verbs in their perfective forms, here denoted by the prefixz-)
Due to the distinction between adjectival and adverbial participles, in Polish it is practically impossible to make a dangling participle in the classical English meaning of the term. For instance, in the sentence:
I found them hiding in the closet.
it is unclear whether "I" or "they" were hiding in the closet. In Polish there is a clear distinction:
Znalazłem ich, chowając się w szafie. – chowając is a present adverbial participle agreeing grammatically with the subject ("I")
Znalazłem ich chowających się w szafie. – chowających is an active adjectival participle agreeing grammatically with the object ("them")
Past active imperfect: направел [napravel] (only used in verbal constructions)
Past passive: направен [napraven]
Macedonian has completely lost or transformed the participles of Common Slavic, unlike the other Slavic languages. The following points may be noted:
present active participle: this has transformed into a verbal adverb;
present passive participle: there are some isolated cases or remnants of the present passive participle, such as the word лаком [lakom] (greedy);
past active participle: there is only one remnant of the past active participle, which is the word бивш [bivš] (former). However, this word is often replaced with the word поранешен [poranešen] (former);
past passive participle: this has been transformed into a verbal adjective (it behaves like a normal adjective);
resultative participle: this has transformed into a verbal l-form (глаголска л-форма). It is not a participle since it doesn't function attributively.
Among Indo-European languages, the Lithuanian language is unique for having fourteen different participial forms of the verb, which 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 forms einąs/einantis ("going, walking", present tense), ėjęs (past tense), eisiąs (future tense), eidavęs (past frequentative tense), the passive participle forms einamas ("being walked", present tense), eitas (“walked” past tense), eisimas (future tense), the adverbial participles einant ("while [he, different subject] is walking" present tense), ėjus (past tense), eisiant (future tense), eidavus (past frequentative tense), the semi-participle eidamas ("while [he, the same subject] is going, walking") and the participle of necessity eitinas ("that which needs to be walked"). The active, passive, and the semi-participles are inflected by gender, and the active, passive, and necessity ones are inflected by case.
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. 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 derives, whilst the passive participles describes the object. For example, from the verb كتب kataba, the active participle is kātib كاتب and the passive participle is maktūb مكتوب. Roughly these translate to "writing" and "written" respectively. However, they have different, derived lexical uses. كاتب kātib is further lexicalized as "writer", "author" and مكتوب maktūb 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 motion verbs 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 that describes the state of the syntactic subject after the action of the verb from which it derives has taken place. ʼĀkil, the active participle of ʼakala ("to eat"), describes one's state after having eaten something. Therefore, it can be used in analogous way to the English present perfect (for example, ʼAnā ʼākil انا آكل meaning "I have eaten", "I have just eaten" or "I have already eaten"). Other verbs, such as rāḥa راح ("to go") give a participle (rāyiḥ 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 lexical aspect 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 derive. 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.
Finnish uses six participles to convey different meanings. Below is a table displaying the declension of the participles of the verb tappaa (to kill).
The participles work in the following way:
Present active participle: Conveys an ongoing action. Used to omit the use of the relative pronoun who, which or that. Tappava means "killing" as in "killing machine". In other words, machine that kills. It can also work as the subject of the sentence. In other words, tappava can mean "the one who kills" or "he who kills". Tappava on... = He who kills is...
Present passive participle: Conveys possibility and obligation. Possibility as in -able (killable) and obligation as in something that has to be killed. Tapettava mies can mean both "the killable man" (possibility) and "the man who has to be killed" (obligation).
Past active participle: Used with the verb olla (to be) to construct the perfect and the past perfect tenses. In English the verb "to have" is used to form the perfect and past perfect tense (I have/had killed), in Finnish the verb "to be" is used instead (minä olen/olin tappanut). Just like the present active participle, it can also be used as the subject in a sentence, except it conveys the meaning in the past tense. In other words, tappanut can mean "the one who killed" or "he who killed". Tappanut on... = He who killed is...
Past passive participle: A concluded action. Tapettu mies = the killed man.
Agent participle: Always used with a possessive suffix. It is used to convey the meaning of the word "by" in English, since there is no word for "by" in Finnish. Hänen tappamansa mies = The man killed by him. The tense of the translation depends on the context.
Negative participle: Used to convey impossibility (unkillable) and undoneness (not killed). Tappamaton mies means both "unkillable man" and "man (who is) not killed".
Each and every one of these participles can be used as adjectives, which means that some of them can be turned into nouns.
unkillable (possibility) or not killed (undoneness)
unkillability (possibility) or lack of killing (undoneness)
Participles are called sıfat-fiil (lit. adjective-verb) or ortaç in Turkish.
Turkish participles consist of a verb stem and a suffix. Some participles may be conjugated, but some may not. Participles always precede the noun they are defining, as in English.
Participle suffixes, like many other suffixes in Turkish, change according to the vowel harmony and sandhi.
There are eight types of participle suffixes; -en, -esi, -mez, -ar, -di(k/ği)-ecek and -miş
Malay and Indonesian use prefixes such as di- (intentional), ter- (accidental) or sudah.
Sireniki Eskimo language, an extinct Eskimo–Aleut language, has separate sets of adverbial participles and adjectival participles. Different from in English, 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, I would kill walruses" requires two full clauses (to distinguish the two verbs' different subjects), in Sireniki Eskimo one of these may be replaced with an adverbial participle (since its conjugation indicates the subject).
Esperanto has six different participle conjugations; active and passive for past, present and future. The participles are formed as follows:
For example, a falonta botelo is a bottle that will fall or is about to fall. A falanta botelo is one that is falling through the air. After it hits the floor, it is a falinta botelo. These examples use the active participles, but the usage of the passive participles is similar. A cake that is going to be divided is a dividota kuko. When it is in the process of being divided, it is a dividata kuko. Having been cut, it is now a dividita kuko.
These participles can be used in conjunction with the verb to be, esti, forming 18 compound tenses (9 active and 9 passive). However, this soon becomes complicated and often unnecessary, and is only frequently used when rigorous translation of English is required. An example of this would be la knabo estos instruita, or, the boy will have been taught. This example sentence is then in the future anterior.
When the suffix -o is used, instead of -a, then the participle refers to a person. A manĝanto is someone who is eating. A manĝinto is someone who ate. A manĝonto is someone who will eat. Also, a manĝito is someone who was eaten, a manĝato is someone who is being eaten, and a manĝoto is someone who will be eaten.
These rules hold true for all transitive verbs. Since copular and intransitive verbs do not have passive voice, their participle forms can only be active.
An informal and unofficial addition to these six are the participles for conditional forms, which use -unt- and -ut-. For example, parolunto refers to someone who would speak (or would have spoken), and a leguta libro is a book that would be read (or have been read). These unofficial participle forms are however very rarely used in practice, and more often as a linguistic joke than in a serious way.
^Menovshchikov, G.A.: Language of Sireniki Eskimos. Phonetics, morphology, texts and vocabulary. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow • Leningrad, 1964. Original data: Г.А. Меновщиков: Язык сиреникских эскимосов. Фонетика, очерк морфологии, тексты и словарь. Академия Наук СССР. Институт языкознания. Москва • Ленинград, 1964
^Kiss, Katalin E.; Kiefer, Ferenc; Siptár, Péter (2003). Új magyar nyelvtan. Osiris tankönyvek (in Hungarian) (3. kiadás ed.). Budapest: Osiris Kiadó. 1218-9855.