The Participle – Part I

Read the sentence given below:

Seeing the dog the child ran away.

Here seeing is a form of the verb see and has an object, namely dog. At the same time seeing is also like an adjective, because it says something about the noun, child. It is, therefore, called a verbal adjective or participle.

There are three kinds of participles – the present participle, the past participle and the perfect participle.

The Present Participle

Read the sentences given below:

He jumped out of the moving train.
Hearing a loud sound, he rushed out of the room.
Barking dogs seldom bite.

Here the words given in bold text are examples of present particples. You will have noticed that all of them end in –ing. A present participle represents an action as going on and incomplete.

Note that the present participle does not indicate the present time but unfinished action. It can be used with all the tenses. The time of the action is shown by the finite verbs in the sentences (jumped, rushed, bite), and not by the participle.

The Past Participle

We saw the trees laden with fruits.
by hunger he killed himself.
Bent with age the old man tottered along.
Ill-gotten wealth is a curse.

Here the words given in bold text are examples of past participles. You will have noticed that the past participles usually end with –ed, -d,-t or –en. They represent a completed action.

Now read the sentences given below:

Having delivered the parcel, the postman departed.
Not having applied in time, he couldn’t get the job.

Here the words in bold text are not simple present or past participles, but perfect participles. The perfect participle represents an action as having been completed some time in the past.

Uses of the Present Participle

To form the continuous tenses

The present participle is used to form the continuous tenses.

I am writing. (Present continuous)
We have been waiting. (Present perfect continuous)
They were playing. (Past continuous)
It is raining. (Present continuous)
I will be working. (Future continuous)

As an adjective

The present participle can be used as an adjective in all the positions and functions of the plain adjective.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.
The rising sun is beautiful to look at.

Here the present participles are used as adjectives before the nouns they qualify.