The past participles are formed by adding –ed to the base form of regular verbs (fire – fired, jump – jumped, move – moved); or by adding other endings to the base form of other verbs (be – been; feel – felt, hide – hidden) as they do not end in –ed or by changing their spellings (fight – fought, see – saw, teach – taught). The past participle expresses a completed action in the past. It must come after the helping verbs or auxiliary verbs have (have, has, had) to form the perfect tenses in the active voice or be (is, are, was, were) in the passive voice. The past participle may also be used as adjectives to modify nouns or pronouns. When it modifies a noun, it functions as an adjective and is known as a participial adjective.
Past participle used in the perfect tenses in the active voice
Perfect tenses must use the past participle to follow the auxiliary verbs has, have and had.
- She has broken another of my glasses. (Present perfect)
- Many passersby have accepted the leaflets that we are handing out. (Present perfect)
- The hospital had already discharged her when we arrived to visit her. (Past perfect)
- By the end of this month, her sister will have given birth to her seventh child. (Future perfect)
Past participle used in the passive voice
Only the past participle form of the verb can be used in the passive voice. The past participle must immediately follow an auxiliary verb. Both the auxiliary verbs and past participles are shown in bold.
- She is given the nickname 'Chatterbox' because she talks a lot. (Present tense)
- They are paid to carry banners reading ‘The world will end soon!’ (Present tense)
- The injured are being airlifted to the nearest hospital. (Present continuous tense)
- The two have been told to keep quiet in the library. (Present perfect tense)
- He was reprimanded for using a four-letter word. (Past tense)
- He had been warned not to keep the porcupine as pet. (Past perfect tense)
- Painting of the doghouse will have been completed by that time. (Future perfect tense)
Past participle used as adjective
A past participle functions as an adjective to modify a noun, and is known as a participial adjective. It usually comes before the noun that it modifies. The following examples show participial adjectives in bold:
The farmer was found guilty of receiving a stolen horse.
The polluted river stinks of rotten eggs.
An ambulance took the wounded victim of a road accident to a nearby hospital.
The soldiers were shot for straying into the disputed territory.