past participle


Definition of past participle

: a participle that typically expresses completed action, that is traditionally one of the principal parts of the verb, and that is traditionally used in English in the formation of perfect tenses in the active voice and of all tenses in the passive voice

Examples of past participle in a Sentence

The verbs “thrown” in “the ball has been thrown” and “raised” in “many hands were raised” are past participles.
Recent Examples on the Web Pena Nieto used an incorrect past participle sometimes used by children in a speech in Paris at the offices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Washington Post, "Mexico’s president again stumbles in public speaking," 12 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'past participle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of past participle

1798, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of past participle was in 1798

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Cite this Entry

“Past participle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for past participle

past participle


English Language Learners Definition of past participle

grammar : the form of the verb that is used with "have" in perfect tenses and with "be" in passive constructions

past participle


Kids Definition of past participle

: a word that expresses completed action and is one of the principal parts of a verb The words “raised” in “many hands were raised” and “thrown” in “the ball has been thrown” are past participles.

More from Merriam-Webster on past participle

Spanish Central: Translation of past participle

Nglish: Translation of past participle for Spanish Speakers

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