The past participle is a verb part. The words “done,” “gone,” “lost,” and “forgotten” are examples of past participles. The past participle is the form that a main verb takes when it is used along with an auxiliary verb (e.g., “have gone,” “was forgotten”) to convey certain types of grammatical meaning. It generally looks exactly like the past tense form of a verb--the forms “walked,” “asked,” “begged,” for example, could be either past participles or simple past tense forms--but some verbs, particularly some very common verbs, have distinctive past participle forms. The words “been,” “broken,” “eaten,” “sewn,” and “sung” are some of these unique past participles.


The past participle is often seen in combination with the auxiliary verb “have” in what are called perfect forms.


I have been to Florida twice.

The thief had broken in through the window, and now he was upstairs.


The past participle is also used in the passive construction (wherein a grammatical object of a sentence becomes the grammatical subject).


All the donuts were eaten by the time I got back.

The national anthem is sung before every professional baseball game.

She was given a ring by her parents for her birthday.


The past participle is also used with certain verbs in special constructions such as “have something done” and “get something done” that refer to something being acted on as a result of someone’s request, wish, or demand.


They had their house painted last summer.

It’s hard to get any work done with all this noise.

She decided to have her hair colored.


Past participles are often used as adjectives or eventually become classified as adjectives in their own right (as well as continuing to be used as past participle forms of verbs).


The broken lamp was still on the floor.

The rotten vegetables began to smell.

All the work is finished now.

I was completely exhausted at the end of the race.





Glossary List