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From Middle English participle, from Old French participle (1388), variant of participe, from Latin participium.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɑːˈtɪsɪpəl/, /ˈpɑːtɪsɪpəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɑɹtɪˌsɪpəl/
  • (file)


participle (plural participles)

  1. (grammar) A form of a verb that may function as an adjective, noun or adverb. English has two types of participles: the present participle and the past participle. In other languages, there are others, such as future, perfect, and future perfect participles.

Usage notes[edit]

Contemporary English constructs the perfect, progressive and progressive perfect aspects, and the passive voice from participles and auxiliary verbs. The tense is always expressed through the auxiliary verb.

  • I have asked. (present tense, perfect aspect)
  • I am asking. (present tense, progressive aspect)
  • I am asked. (present tense, passive voice)

When not combined with have or be, participles are almost always adjectives and can form adjectival phrases called participial phrases. Nouns can occasionally be derived from these adjectives:

  • the following items
  • the following
  • the dying victims
  • the dying

In English, participles typically end in -ing, -ed or -en.

A present participle ending in -ing has the same form but a different function from a verbal noun called a gerund. Sometimes a present participle (adjective) is mistakenly called a gerund (noun).



Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]