English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

Adjectives in the past participle in English

Adjectives in the past participle in English

This lesson helps us understand what a past participle adjective is and how to use it correctly in a sentence.

What is a past participle adjective?

A past participle adjective is a past participle form of a verb (V3) that functions as an adjective in a sentence.

(Regular verbs)

V1 (basic form) V2 (past form) V3 (past participle)
Break Broken Broken
Lying Lied Lied
Listen Heard Heard
Love beloved beloved
Baking Baking Baking

(Irregular verbs)

Come on Gone Disappeared
Do Did Done
Give Gio Given
Drive Drove Boosted
Break Broke Broken

I will not buy a broken phone.

‘Broken’ is the past participle adjective (past participle of ‘break’) in the sentence above. It refers to the physical state of the noun ‘telephone’. It works as an adjective.


  • A motivated man can do anything.
  • He fought with his nose shattered .
  • Don’t mess with him; he is a trained fighter.
  • It will not be a paid task.
  • He is unmotivated.
  • We are bored right now.
  • He was fired for consuming contaminated supplements.
  • My friend Jon is afraid of dogs.
  • Everyone was confused after my performance.
  • They sell colored glasses.
  • What did you do with the burned clothes?
  • The police found some papers destroyed in his apartment.
  • You need an apology in writing.

Position of an adjective in past participle

A past participle adjective, or even a present participle adjective, is placed in the following places:

  • Just before a noun
  • After a linking or stative verb
  • Just before the noun it modifies

This is the most common position of a past participle adjective. Here, it comes just before the noun it modifies.


  • Behave like the grown man that you are.
  • Don’t buy that. It is a disputed property.
  • Can I have a glass of boiled water?
  • My cousin Totu loves to eat frozen yogurt.
  • This is a stolen bike; I won’t buy it

After a stative/linking verb

A past participle adjective can also follow a linking verb.


  • My friend Jon is afraid of dogs.
  • Everyone was confused after my performance.
  • I was really embarrassed when our photos were shown on the big screen.
  • She doesn’t get tired .
  • Nothing seems to be working for me. I’m frustrated.
  • We are all excited to hear this.

Hyphenated past participle adjectives

Past participles are sometimes combined with a noun or adjective using a hyphen; the entire hyphenated expression functions as an adjective.


  • I am a self-made person.
  • He is a self-directed man.
  • Coal engines are no longer in use.
  • It is believed that animals fed meat live longer.
  • A well-known actor follows me on Instagram.

Past participles often used as adjectives

  • shocked
  • Hectic
  • unmotivated
  • Tired
  • Exhausted
  • Terrified
  • Scared
  • petrified
  • Frightened
  • Confused
  • Frustrated
  • Ashamed
  • Depressed
  • boring
  • Excited
  • Delighted
  • Amazed
  • motivated
  • Funny
  • Overwhelmed
  • Relaxed
  • Satisfied
  • Amazed
  • Interested

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