We have learnt that main verbs come in two kinds: finite verbs and non-finite verbs. While finite verbs change their forms according to the number, person and tense, non-finite verbs do not change their forms. The infinitives, gerunds and participles are non-finites and are also called verbals as they are derived from verbs.
We have learnt that an infinitive is a verbal consisting of TO and a verb, for example - TO PLAY. We have also leant that a gerund is a verbal consisting of a verb and the suffix ING (for example - CRYING) and that a gerund functions as a noun. But what about participles?
The participle is a verbal that is formed from a verb by adding one of the following suffixes: ‘ING’, ‘NE’, ‘ED’, ‘EN’, ‘N’, ‘T’ or ‘D’. The participle functions as an adjective and can take the form of a present participle or a past participle. The present participle always ends in ‘ING’. For instance, CRYING, FALLING and BARKING are present participles. The past participle can end in ‘NE’, ‘ED’, ‘EN’, ‘N’, ‘T’ or ‘D’ depending upon the verb. For instance, GONE, TIRED, SHAKEN, SEEN, DEALT and SAVED are past participles.
Though participles are derived from verbs they function as adjectives and hence modify nouns or pronouns. Participles find their uses in several ways:
Participles are used as a subject - "The DISGRUNTLED employee sat down in protest" or "CRYING babies are difficult to handle."
Participles are used as a complement of the subject - "He seems DEVASTATED."
Participles are also used as a complement of the object - "I heard the dog BARKING outside."
One note of caution is warranted however. Don’t get confused between a gerund and a present participle. For instance, in the sentence "They enjoy DANCING", DANCING is a gerund whereas in the sentence "The DANCING boy was applauded", DANCING is a present participle. Take this quiz and understand how participles are properly used.