ICAO Level 5 Structure: Participle Adjectives

Present Participle and Past Participle as Adjectives

A lot of English words stem from the same family; it helps learners in terms of word formation as learning groups of words is effective because it’s acquired with bigger ease and effectiveness. On the other hand, some similar English words may cause some problems once they’re used interchangeably and their meaning is different than our interlocutor’s understanding. One of the most common sources of linguistic ambiguities are verb-based adjectives, such as “stunned” vs. “stunning” or “interested” vs. “interesting“. Let me explain you the differences between these subtle but meaningful suffixes.

Past participle and present participle

Present Participle (“-ing” suffix)

Present participles are formed from verbs. Present participle can be used either as an adjective, or a foundation to make a verb structure. Here’s the easiest distinction:

The verb: to interest

The present participle: interesting

The present participle used as an adjective: An interesting movie.

The present participle used to form a verb tense: That movie was interesting. (Passive voice here is used so  ‘interesting’ is not an adjective anymore.)

Present Participles in Participle Phrases

One of the most common uses of present participle is to use it as a participle phrase.

– Boys were spending their time together building the sandcastles.

– She works in a rapidly growing company.

– Nervously driving back home, she caused a car crash.

Putting a lot of pressure and deadlines on him, he decided to quit his well-paid job.

What is present participle?

Past Participle (“-ed” suffix)

Past participles usually end with -ed, -t, -d, -n, or -en.

The verb: break

The past participle: a broken window

The past participle used as an adjective: an ironed shirt

Past Participle in Participle Phrases

One of the most common uses of past participle is to use it as a participle phrase.

– She is overwhelmed by a wide range of possibilities her new smartphone offers.

– Her kitchen is always cleaned on Saturday morning.

Tired and broken, he hasn’t given up and he managed to arrive at a station on time.


As you can see the choice of a suffix in a verb really matters. It changes a word and its connotations. Let me know if my explanation above presents clearly the difference between the “-ing” and “-ed” suffixes. I’m here to help you!

Past participle explained