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Participles

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Here are the common participles:

Verb – work

Peter is working from home at the moment. working present participle
Peter has worked here for almost two years. worked – past participle
Having worked here for two years, Peter was given a promotion. having worked – perfect participle

Using participles

One use of participles is as adjectives:
A damaged car                     A passing car
A broken window                 Breaking glass

A past participle used as an adjective describes a 'complete' result while a present participle describes an 'incomplete' situation or a momentary situation.

A participle can also be used at the start of an expression:

Present participles

There is someone waiting to see you. (The participle waiting is used the same way as a relative pronoun/clause – someone who is waiting to see you.)

Realising that she had forgotten her phone, Sarah went back home to get it. (The participle realising is part of a participle clause.

John waded through the mud, losing his shoe in the process. ( losing is part of a participle clause)

Be careful when you use this type of expression as it could have two meanings.

Looking out of the window, Peter seemed tired.
This type of sentence is ambiguous to the point that it is difficult to understand. Did Peter look out of the window and was seen by the narrator or is the narrator looking out of the window at Peter? The sentence needs to be written so it is better understood.
Looking out of the window I saw Peter in the garden. He looked tired.
I saw Peter looking out of the window. He looked tired.

Past participles

Angered by the government's inability to improve the economic situation, people took to the streets in protest. (the people who were made angry)

The evidence discovered at the crime scene was enough to convict the murderer. (the evidence that was discovered)

Perfect participles

After having waited for over an hour, we were relieved when the bus arrived.

Having missed the last bus, we had to walk home.

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Now use the information above to complete the following:

  • 1) I answered the call __ in the car.




  • 2) We stopped to watch a boat __ into the sea.




  • 3) Sarah noticed some teenagers __ into a shop.



  • 4) We were impressed by the wonders of Thailand, not __ there before.




  • 5) Sarah opened the note that came with the flowers, __ who they were from.



  • 6) __ the last train, we had to get a taxi.




  • 7) The __ car is much more popular than the original.



  • 8) A __ shopper saw the wallet on the floor and handed it to a policeman.