Past Participle adjectives in English

This lesson helps us understand what a past participle adjective is, and how to use it correctly in a sentence.

What is a past participle adjective?

A past participle adjective is a past participle form of a verb (V3) that functions as an adjective in a sentence.

V1 (base form)V2 (past form)V3 (past participle)
BreakBrokenBroken
LieLiedLied
ListenListenedListened
LoveLovedLoved
BakeBakedBaked
(Regular verbs)
GoWentGone
DoDidDone
GiveGaveGiven
DriveDroveDriven
Break BrokeBroken
(Irregular verbs)

I won’t buy a broken phone.

‘Broken’ is the past participle adjective (past participle of ‘break’) in the above sentence. It is referring to the physical state of the noun ‘phone’. It is working as an adjective.

Past participle adjective infographic
Past participle adjective infographic

Examples:

  • A motivated man can do anything.
  • He fought with a shattered nose.
  • Don’t mess with him; he is a trained fighter.
  • It will not be a paid task. 
  • He is demotivated.
  • We are bored right now.
  • He was fired for consuming tainted supplements.
  • My friend Jon is scared of dogs.
  • Everyone was confused after my performance.
  • They are selling colored glasses.
  • What did you do with the burnt clothes?
  • The cops found some destroyed papers in his apartment.
  • She needs a written apology.

Position of a past participle adjective

A past participle adjective, or even a present participle adjective, is placed at the following places:

  1. Just before a noun
  2. After a linking or stative verb

Just before the noun it modifies

This is the most common position of a past participle adjective, Here, it comes right before the noun it modifies.

Examples:

  • Behave like a grown man that you are.
  • Don’t buy that. It is a disputed property.
  • Can I have a glass of boiled water?
  • My cousin Totu loves having frozen yogurt.
  • This is a stolen bike; I won’t buy it.

After a linking/stative verb

A past participle adjective can also come after a linking verb.

Examples:

  • My friend Jon is scared of dogs.
  • Everyone was confused after my performance.
  • I was really embarrassed when our pictures were shown on the big screen.
  • She does not get tired.
  • Nothing seems to be working for me. I am just frustrated.
  • We all are thrilled to hear this.

Hyphenated past participle adjectives

Past participles are sometimes combined with a noun or an adjective using a hyphen; the entire hyphenated expression works as an adjective.

Examples:

  • I am a self-made person.
  • He is a self-driven man.
  • Coal-powered engines are no longer in use.
  • Meat-fed animals are believed to live longer.
  • A well-known actor follows me on Instagram.

Past participles that are often used as adjectives

  • Shocked
  • Agitated
  • Demotivated
  • Tired
  • Exhausted
  • Terrified
  • Scared
  • Petrified
  • Frightened
  • Confused
  • Frustrated
  • Embarrassed
  • Depressed
  • Bored
  • Excited
  • Thrilled
  • Amazed
  • Motivated
  • Amused
  • Overwhelmed
  • Relaxed
  • Satisfied
  • Amazed
  • Interested

Related YouTube lessons:

past participle adjective

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