Past Participle

The past participle is a real team player. Because its job is to create the perfect tenses and the passive voice, it can never be used as the only verb in a sentence

You always have to pair the past participle with a helping verb, usually have, has, had, was, were, or is.

 

Here's where things get a little tricky.

First, let's check out a couple of charts that show how the past participle stacks up against the base form and the past tense of verbs. We love charts, almost as much as we love breakfast for dinner.

The past tense and the past participle of regular verbs are the same:

Baseform Past Tense Past Participle
greet greeted greeted
entertain entertained entertained
wiggle wiggled wiggled

The past tense and the past participle of irregular verbs may be different. Here are three of many, many possible examples

Baseform Past Tense Past Participle
know knew known
write wrote written
ring rang rung

We know what you're thinking. "Cool charts, Shmoop. But what do we need past participles for?"

The perfect tenses, that's what:
- Present perfect
- Past perfect
- Future perfect

In short, the perfect tenses indicate that an action has been completed; which type of perfect tense you use tells the reader when it was or will be completed, a.k.a. in the present, the past, the future.

The past participle is also used to create the passive voice. Basically, you use the passive voice when the subject of the sentence receives the action instead of performing it.

 

Examples

" We deduced that the fish tank had exploded while we were at the movies."

In this example, we add the helping verb had to the regular past participle exploded to make the past perfect. Remember, for regular verbs, the past simple form and the past participle form look exactly the same.

" We have thrown all of the toilet paper rolls in the Wulf family's trees. Let's get out of here! "

Check it out: adding the helping verb have to the irregular past participle thrown creates the present perfect tense in this sentence. In other words, the speaker's saying, "Ladies and gentleman, at present we have dispensed with all of our rolls of Charmin. To the getaway coach!"

" Greg will have eaten a dozen funnel cakes before he leaves Six Flags tonight."

In this stomach-churning sentence, we've added the helping verbs will and have to the irregular past participle eaten to create the future perfect tense. After eating all of those funnel cakes, we're willing to bet ol' Greg will be feeling significantly less than perfect at the end of the night.