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Participle

Participle is an adjective or complement to certain auxiliaries that is regularly derived from the verb in many languages and refers to participation in the action or state of the verb; a verbal form used as an adjective. It does not specify person or number in English, but may have a subjector object, show tense, etc., as burning, in a burning candle, or devoted in. 

Linking main verbs to helping verbs

The participle is an important English construction that is used in order to form several verb tenses, including forms of the past, present, and future tenses. Essentially, a participle refers to a verb that has been modified in such a way that it can be linked up with helping verbs in order to convey a distinct meaning. 

In the present tense, the most common participle is the "-ing" form of verbs. And the past participle form usually consists of the simple past tense of the verb in question.

The participle is defined by the fact that it is not a functional verb in itself, but rather needs the help of helping verbs in order to convey meaning. 

Participles and proper grammar

Here is an example for you of the participle being used correctly within a sentence. 

"After he had jumped over the fence, he continued running without looking back, out of fear that the cops may still be behind him."

In this sentence, "had jumped" is a correct use of the past participle form of the common verb "to jump". 

Now, here is an example of the participle being used in an incorrect way

"He had eating his dinner while working on his dissertation; he felt that he couldn't take a break for even a minute." 

In this sentence, "had meeting" is a bad construction, because the right helping verb in this context would be "was". 

Now, here are a couple rules you can follow, just in case you are still a little confused about how the participle works. 

  1. The participle is always used in conjugation with helping verbs, with the latter usually being some form of the verbs "be" or "have". This construction allows the participle to express the meaning of the base verb in several different tenses. Unlike the base verb, though, the participle cannot stand by itself. It needs to be used in conjunction with the helping verbs. 
  2. The most important thing when using the participle is to make sure that you picked the right participle form and the right helping verbs for expressing the tense that you are trying to express. This is especially relevant if the verb you are using has irregular participles, or if you are using a tense that requires more than one helping verb. 

Participles important to the English language

The participle is very important in the English language, due to the fact that most temporal tenses (such as the historic present tense) are constructed not by a direct conjugation of the main verb, but rather by the conjunction of the participle with a helping verb. This is different from the situation in (for example) the Romance languages, where verbs are directly conjugated in order to express different tenses.

For example, in Spanish, the future tense of the verb "eat" would be a modification of the word "eat" itself, whereas English uses the participle construction "will eat". 

This difference is perhaps at least partly traceable to the fact that English is a Germanic language and not a Romance language. The upshot is that verb conjugations in English are relatively simple to achieve, since the past participle and the present participle of a given verb remain constant across tenses, no matter what tense they are being conjugated into with the assistance of helping verbs. 

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