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Nothing about participles in other languages?[edit]

Why is there nothing yet about participles in other languages? (Rhetorical question, but answer if the Muse moves you.) Michael Hardy 03:47, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Oh ... I see Latin is mentioned. That's at least a start. Michael Hardy03:50, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't think the recently added second sentence of the first paragraph is helpful. It really doesn't summarize the article, it basically duplicates the text immediately beneath it. At the least, should it not be qualified with "In English..."? Fleminra 09:06, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)


'A few irregular verbs have two non-synonymous past participles: One may say "The ship has sunk" or "The divers found a sunken ship."'

"Sunken" is not a past participle. It's an adjective identical in form to the older past participle of "sink." You can say "the sunk ship" or "the sunken ship," but you can only say "the ship has sunk," because "the ship has sunken" is incorrect.

In fact, there are no non-synonymous pairs of past participles ("sneaked" and "snuck", "dreamed" and "dreamt" --> same meanings). If no one disagrees in the next few days or so, i'll make the edit myself. - JRiddy 12/01/05

I completely agree. Ruakh 03:41, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Explaining changes[edit]

Wherever this article was copied from was a poor source. No mention that the participles are perfect and imperfect (it's actually misleading to call the perfect participle "past" because a/ it's used in the perfect tense -- a present tense and b/ it's used adjectivally to describe objects that are very much present. The stuff about "passive" was written by someone who simply didn't think about the perfect tense. It would have been better to say that the perfect participle is used in the passive, rather than suggesting it's in itself passive, which it isn't. The stuff about "sunk" and "sunken" is nonsense and needs deleting as per the discussion above. 05:27, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Present participle in Spanish[edit]

This part is kind of missleading. In Spanish, a participio is a verbal adjective by definition. What's more, Spanish does have a present participle, which is considered as an adjective on its own right. It is called participio presente, ends in -ante, -ente and comes from latin active present participle: e.g. latin amans, -antis gives Spanish amante, "loving (adj), (one) that loves". It is clearly an adjective, and it is always equivalent to a relative clause. It never complements a verb.

On the same page, the past participle (the participio, or more properly participio pasado) is also an adjective (regular endings are -ado, -ido, but there are irregular forms too, such as hecho). This one comes from latin passive past participle. As in English, it is also used to form perfect tenses.

On the other hand, the gerundio (ending in -ando, -endo) is never used as an adjective, an logically is not considered as such. This form is used only to make continuous/progressive tenses, so it is always connected to a verb: that's why it is considered as a verbal adverb in Spanish.

The mistake seems to arise from the fact that both present participle and gerundio just happen to be translated by an -ing form in English: "a loving man" gives un hombre amante, but "she is singing" gives ella está cantando. Note that the English term gerund refers to a -ing form acting as a noun; in Spanish that role is played by the infinitive: English gerund "I like writting" translates into Spanish as Me gusta escribir --Xavier 22:22, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

I feel like much of what you've said is the same as what's in the article, and some of what you said is mistaken:
  • "In Spanish, a participio is a verbal adjective by definition." True, and the article says that.
  • "What's more, Spanish does have a present participle, which is considered as an adjective on its own right. [...]" According to es:Participio, Spanish has no participio presente. It's true that there are words (including amante - which, however, is primarily a noun) that descend from Latin's present participle, but these are not part of the conjugation of the verb, and not every verb has one. They are nouns and adjectives derived from verbs, not verbal nouns nor verbal adjectives nor yet participles.
  • "On the same page, the past participle [...] is also an adjective [...]" All this paragraph is true, and the article says all of it, except that it doesn't mention the past participle's Latin descent. (I'm not sure the details of its Latin descent are all that important, but if you want to add them, I won't object.)
  • "On the other hand, the gerundio (ending in -ando, -endo) is never used as an adjective [...]. This form is used only to make continuous/progressive tenses [...]." This is half-true. It is commonly considered an adverb, not an adjective, and unlike the typical Spanish adjective, it doesn't agree in person and number with any noun. However, it is not restricted to the formation of the continuous aspect - I don't know where you could have gotten such a notion - and it is used in many of the same ways as English's present participle. All of the examples at es:Gerundio would be translated to English using the present participle, including the non-continuous "Ya veo a mis hijos viniendo de la escuela," which in English would be "I already see my children coming (home) from school." Granted, the gerundio does have certain uses that English would translate adverbially (for example, es:Plantilla:Esbozo, which is the Spanish equivalent of Template:Stub, contains the sentence "Ampliándolo ayudarás a mejorar Wikipedia," which in English would be "In expanding it, you will help improve Wikipedia"), but many of its uses are what an English-speaker would consider adjectival.
  • "Note that the English term gerund refers to a -ing form acting as a noun [...]" This is true, but I'm sorry, I don't see the relevance. :-/
Ruakh 01:45, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
My view is that in both English and Spanish, trying to distinguish a gerund and a present participle is a false distinction - they are the same. So the only possible distinctions are as parts of speech by analogy with other languages. But other languages' grammar can only give suggestions. -- 18:26, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
In English, there's certainly a difference: in "walking is fun," walking is clearly a noun (and hence gerund), while "walking fish are cool," it's clearly an adjective (and hence participle). There are some cases where the distinction is very relevant — "What's walking?" could be asking either "What does walking mean?" (gerund) or "What thing/item/animal/etc. that is walking?" (participle). There are also some cases where it's very not — "I stopped walking" (participle) and "I stopped my walking" (gerund) are really equivalent — but that doesn't make the entire distinction meaningless. Ruakh 00:38, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

About the opening line[edit]

In the opening line of the article it states that a participle is a "verbal adjective". Since a participle is an inflected form of a verb that has the function of an adjective, wouldn't it be more correct to call it a "adjectival verb"? Calling it a "verbal adjective" seems to imply that a participle is actually an adjective in form that is functioning as a verb, but this is not the case. In a sentence like "The walking dog", "walking" is a verb in form, but is has the function of an adjective. Does anyone agree with this? (edit: updated signature only.) dt 20:46, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, but I disagree: in "the walking dog," "walking" is an adjective modifying "dog." It's inflected from a verb — hence verbal adjective — but it's still an adjective. (Even if you convinced me, it wouldn't matter; the term is quite standard, and it's not really an encyclopedia's place to abandon it.) Ruakh 00:25, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

Latin passive future participle[edit]

By my reading of my grammar texts, Latin doesn't really have a fully functional passive future participle. The gerundive can be used as one in every case but the nominative - which is what the example on this page shows! Nominative 'educandus' can mean 'worthy of being taught' or 'able to be taught' but never 'about to be taught'; accusative 'educandum' could mean 'about to be taught' but would be misleading amongst the other nominatives in the list.

Not entirely clear whether the best thing to do is take the future passive out of the list for more explanation, leave it as is (technically incorrect but usefully explanatory) or just use a different case for that one example.

Mikolaj 04:13, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Latin has not got a future passive participle, in fact educandus means to be accultured, eudcated. To express the idea of about to be eucated meaning that will be educated the latins would use a passive future infinite with the subject expressed.--Philx 02:07, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Sources that confirm gerundive use as either expressing obligation or as participle, depending on context:

  4. and

Betts 1986 states:

"The gerundive [...] has three uses: (a) As an attribute adjective with the sense of able to be, worthy of being [...] (b) As a predicative adjective with the same basic sense, except that it always expresses the idea of necessity [...] This use involves part of sum [...] (c) In this remaining use the gerundive has the sense of a present or future passive participle, but, with one exception, it is only employed in the same type of grammatical contexts as the gerund. [...]"

Mikolaj 06:25, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

I am removing the gerundive from the list. Its unqualified presence offends me. It NEVER behaves like a future participle; the closest it gets to being 'future' is when it has a jussive mood of some sort. It is a bit like mistaking the present subjunctive for the future: it might be helpful in translating some specific sentences into English, but ultimately it will just lead to a misunderstanding of the underlying meaning in its own language. Concessively, I will add a paragraph at the end attempting to explain the difference. Xpic (talk) 08:11, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Stupidest article ever[edit]

I come here, see some little things that are wrong, try2fix... then I come to notice more and more things that are wrong and ultimately i don't think it can be fixed. 'participle' is what you call a verb when you use it attributively somewhere, other than a VP C-commanded by a form of the verb 'be' where it belongs in predicative use... (and it is the verb 'be'. and in italian, instead of saying 'the passengers have arrived', you say 'the passengers are arrived'... and then you can say, 'the arrived passengers'... like in english, you say 'the words have been spoken', and then you can say, 'the spoken words' (spoken is the past participle, not the past tense, the past tense being 'spoke' as in 'i spoke the words'... you get the forrm of the participle when C-commanded by 'be'))

dunno why i wrote that. i want to fix the article, but i don't even know what to fix...

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

I think that the article is mostly correct, and your comments do not help me see what you consider to be wrong in the article. Can you point out a specific statement in the article that, in your estimation, is not correct, and explain why? —RuakhTALK 23:02, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Please bring all the documents required.[edit]

This example doesn't mean what you think it should. It turns out that, in English, left-branching structures go to the left of the noun, and right-branching structures go to the right. Now, most structures in English are left-branching, and the single-word APs which include 'green' as in 'the green apple' are not exceptional in this regard. Participles are /not/ adjectives, but single-word participle verb phrases are also considered left-branching, as in "the required documents". But what about "the documents required"?

It turns out that you are permitted to randomly delete certain words from your sentences. This is one example- 'the documents required' is an ellided version of 'the documents [that PRO are required]' (actually, i'm not sure... is that really PRO, or is it a trace?)

Now, I know you probably aren't going to take an 'it's ellided' argument seriously, especially after the whole 'better than [she is good]' debacle. But try to say 'the that are required documents'... I'm guessing you had to try to make that-are-required into a single word to fit it in to the left of the noun. The head of the relative clause, [that PRO are required], is of course 'that', making the structure right-branching and belonging on the right.

Here's an interesting participle verb phrase that will nicely illustrate my point about what goes to the left and what goes to the right- you can say 'the beautifully dancing man', or you can say 'the man dancing beautifully'. Or you could, you know, say 'the man which is beautifully dancing'... thus 'the man beautifully dancing'... though that last one is a stretch, about as much of a stretch as 'the documents required'.

Here's the cliffs notes version, which doesn't much out this time. Head comes last -> put to the left. Head comes first -> put to the right.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

It's not really just in English that left-branching structures go to the left and right-branching ones to the right. OTOH, I've always seen your example sentence as containing an ellided [which is], as in please bring all the documents [which are] required. Wtrmute 19:00, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
The article does not suggest any particular analysis. It points out a simple observation about how the surface position of participles is sometimes different from that of ordinary adjectives: "the documents required, the difficulties encountered" vs "*the documents important, *the difficulties major". Does anyone think that this needs to be modified in this article? CapnPrep 21:50, 31 January 2007 (UTC)


I removed the Interlingua section. I think auxlangs and conlangs have no place in linguistic articles, unless they serve a very specific illustrational purpose, which in this case there wasn't at all. Jalwikip (talk) 09:29, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Even if they have native speaking populations? Michael Hardy (talk) 21:05, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
The only auxlang that has claimed native speakers is Esperanto, and that has no native speaking population, but just some families that use the language as primary (or so its said). Also, it has no language development to speak of, and is still rigidly regulated. What's more important, auxlangs are made by linguists, based on linguistic principles. Using them to illustrate linguistic phenomena is therefore backwards, or circular, reasoning. Jalwikip (talk) 21:23, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
What do you mean by "language development"? French, German, and most other major European languages are heavily regulated as well, but that doesn't exclude them from mention here. What about the "linguistic phenomenon" of conditional participles in Esperanto, which were unplanned (and I suspect still officially disapproved of)? Michael Hardy (talk) 15:05, 21 February 2009 (UTC)


This article uses far too much lingo, and it is impossible for anyone who is not knowledgable in linguistics to understand. Could someone who has worked on this article make it more accessible for non English graduates? Thanks --liquidGhoul (talk) 15:07, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

I found the same thing. I was looking for a good example of a dangling participle, and as I started to get into the Polish part, I felt the similarity of this article to a medical report. It must be difficult for a person with advanced knowlege, to just explain something in a simple way. I've seen this too many times. I have done it myself. I don't know what to do about it.Longinus876 (talk) 13:52, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

modifying a verb or sentence, passive sense[edit]

Does not "seen...etc." strictly speaking modify the noun "problem", and not the main verb?

Paukum (talk) 08:53, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Pronunciation in English[edit]

I've been looking around Wikipedia for a discussion of differing pronunciations of the -ing ending of present participles and have come up empty-handed. Does anyone know where I missed something? Specifically, I'm looking for info about social attitudes toward "dropping the g" at the end of present participles (i.e. using an alveolar nasal instead of a velar nasal) as well as if there is any variation by region. Anyone? Anyone? --Hraefen Talk 16:31, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

This is called, simply enough, "g-drop", and if you Google that phrase you'll probably get lots of journal articles and other discussions about it. Off the top of my head, I'd say that g-drop with the high-front 'ee' [i]sound in the nucleus would be regarded sociolinguistically as 'prestige' (the linguistic term for it) pronunciation, and high mid, lax, or schwah as 'lower-class', 'plain-regular-folks' pronunciation (Sarah Palin style: 'huntin' an 'fishin' an 'shootin'), or even syllabic 'n' with nasal-release and no vowel nucleus at all: 'huntn̩'. Sorry for the lack of proper IPA, I'm just passing through lookin for something else.JohndanR (talk) 04:01, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
'g-drop', strangely enough is not really dropping anything because the 'g' is little more than a historical holdover from when the participial morpheme was actually sounding the '-g'. So the question about nasal or velar doesn't really apply: it is a rather unusual pronunciation for velar nasal for the '-ing' participles or gerunds in most English dialects; you might hear it idiolectically or maybe from second generation people of German descent or something, but '-ing' the grammatical morpheme is resolutely alveolar in most English, as '-ing' in a content-word is typically velar. E.g. 'bringing' has velar in the first, and frontal in the second '-ing'. JohndanR (talk) 04:16, 7 November 2013 (UTC)


The table says take is a regular verb, but isn't it irregular since its past and perfect past participles aren't taked? —Ost (talk) 16:15, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

You're right, I originally replaced talk with take because that example had talken, I've now replaced the example with shape, although I believe shapen is a bit archaic in usage, it still serves as an example for a regular verb. thanks for spotting that. --23:18, 11 December 2008 (UTC)Sekmun (talk)

Except that shapen is also irregular. Regular past participles are formed with -ed. Talken doesn't exist and was vandalism as far as I can tell, but talk/talked/talked is fine as an example of a regular verb. --DrHacky (talk) 14:09, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

Sireniki Eskimo[edit]

The section about Sireniki Eskimo should be clarified, since it doesn't make sense: '"If I were a marksman, I would kill walruses" requires two full clauses (in order to distinguish the two verbs' different subjects)' - the two verbs both have "I" as subject, so why are these 'different' subjects? Also, a translation into Sireniki would be nice. On the other hand, since it is appearently a dead language, this section can be deleted in its intirety without the article suffering. Jalwikip (talk) 20:59, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

I see the Sireniki page has the example using 'I' and 'we'. The page is very badly written though. Jalwikip (talk) 21:23, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Unhelpful for someone not knowledgeable about grammar[edit]

I am an English speaker but I was taught grammar poorly at school. I searched "past participle" in the hope of learning to improve my grammar. Please excuse my French, but the entry is useless! It contains so much grammatical jargon that I learned nothing.

Isn't Wikipedia meant to be helpful for everyone? It'd be great if someone added an understandable explanation to the entry.

The section on participles in English seems pretty straightforward to me. What did you find confusing? — Gwalla | Talk 18:16, 25 March 2009 (UTC)


Done is ambiguous, because is frecuently used as Been in modern english, could the articule have any sign of the use of the word?Xopauxo wiki (talk) 10:00, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Historical approach[edit]

Can anybody tell me about the history of English past participle, where it developed from, what its indoeuropen roots are? I would be interested.

Anyway, history of participles in different languages would worth writing about in the article. Only Latin-Neolatin development is evident. --Szipucsu (talk) 16:36, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

As far as I can see there are only the references to some other languages as in gerund, adjectival participle and adverbial participle. Not terribly satisfying, I know, and certainly in need of further work on them, but that is all I can suggest. There is certainly plenty of scope for some enterprising and knowledgeable editors to complete the task in these articles. Dieter Simon (talk) 23:27, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Dangling Participle[edit]

"Broadly speaking, the project was successful"? Really wiki? A dangling participle on the page about participles? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:46, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

What IS a participle?[edit]

The intro paragraph is very ambiguous on the actual definition of a participle. For convenience, I quote: "In linguistics, a participle [...] can be a verb or an adjective (participial phrase). It is a derivative of a non-finite verb, which can be used in compound tenses or voices, or as a modifier. Participles often share properties with other parts of speech, in particular adjectives and nouns."

This tells us how a participle can function in a sentence, what a participle is related to, how it can be used (again), and what parts of speech participles are similar to. It does not tell the definition of a participle or give any idea of what, in general, a participle is. This might make a good second paragraph of the introduction, but as a first paragraph it left me hopelessly confused.

Since I came to this page looking to find out about participles because I didn't know what they were, I am unable to improve this. Can someone who is knowledgeable about grammar or linguistics improve this paragraph? Augurar (talk) 08:38, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Is the English periphrase "to be going to" related to the Latin future participle?[edit]

In Latin, the future participle is often translated into English as "to be about to." (As in, "I'm about to leave" or "The game is about to start.")

But what about the similar periphrases "I'm going to leave" or "The game is going to start?" Are they also derived from the Latin future participle?

Also, why is it that in Romance languages (for instance, Spanish) the "be" is dropped from the periphase? —eg. "Voy a irme." `I go to leave (sic)` or "El juego va a empezar." `The game goes to start (sic)` Pine (talk) 22:09, 21 October 2010 (UTC)


This section seems to have degraded into a very short, unhelpful list of examples. Without objection, I will create a new article on this topic, with a link to this section. Bearian (talk) 16:32, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Infinitive mistake?[edit]

Where the table is (around mid section) wouldn't the "to say", "to speak", etc. be considered infinitives?

If not please disregard and remove.

5rockhopper4 (talk) 03:26, 17 May 2012 (UTC)


Why are they called participles? • • • Peter (Southwood) (talk): 13:29, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

It comes from a Latin word for "share", presumably because they share properties of both verbs and adjectives. W. P. Uzer (talk) 06:57, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, Wiktionary explains it quite well. • • • Peter (Southwood) (talk): 13:58, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Active and passive[edit]

"I have eaten my dinner. (perfect construction; eaten is an active participle here)". – This seems to be a personal idea of the writer; there is no reference given to any textbook, and the statement seems dubious. It would mean that in "I'll have the work finished in a couple of minutes", "finished" is a passive participle, but in "I'll have finished the work in a couple of minutes", "finished" is an active participle; which is questionable. Certainly a past participle (or perfect participle) in English is sometimes active, but a better example would be "The tree has fallen down." Kanjuzi (talk) 06:59, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

Latin participle[edit]

I have deleted the following little table from the section as it seems unnecessary:

"I read"
active passive
present legēns
perfect lēctus
future lēctūrus legendus

However, if it is put back, no harm will be done.

I also replaced the verb amo with Donatus's example lego, since the meaning of amans is not typical of most other present participles. Kanjuzi (talk) 09:12, 17 February 2017 (UTC)