Definition of participle
- In "the finished product," the word "finished" is a participle formed from the verb "finish."
In the phrases “the finishing touches” and “the finished product,” “finishing” and “finished” are participles formed from the verb “finish.”
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English verbs can take several basic forms, which we call their principal parts: the infinitive ("to move", "to speak", etc.), the past tense ("moved", "spoke"), the past participle ("moved", "spoken"), and the present participle ("moving", "speaking"). The participles are words that "take part" in two different word classes: that is, verb forms that can also act like adjectives ("the spoken word", "a moving experience"). A grammatical error called a dangling participle occurs when a sentence begins with a participle that doesn't modify the subject; in the sentence "Climbing the mountain, the cabin came in view", for example, "climbing" is a dangling participle since it doesn't modify "cabin".
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
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