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Verbals. Participles, Gerunds, and Infinitives . Participles . A present participle is formed by adding –ing to the verb. A past participle is formed by adding –ed to the verb. Sometimes a participle acts as the main verb in a verb phrase.

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Participles, Gerunds, and Infinitives

  • A present participle is formed by adding –ing to the verb. A past participle is formed by adding –ed to the verb.
  • Sometimes a participle acts as the main verb in a verb phrase.
  • As a verb, the present participle is used with forms of the linking verb to be, and the past participle is used with forms of the helping verb to have.
  • A participle can also act as an adjective to describe, or modify, a noun, or pronoun.
participle examples
Participle Examples
  • The robin was singing in the tree.

(present participle as a main verb.)

  • Our cat stared at the singing robin.

(present participle as an adjective.)

  • Tammy has tossed the water balloon.

(past participle as a main verb.)

  • The tossed water balloon hit the sidewalk.

(past participle as an adjective.

participial phrase
Participial Phrase
  • A participle phrase includes a participle and all the other words that complete its meaning.
  • It is used as an adjective and can appear before or after the word it modifies.
  • Place the phrase as close as possible to the modified word to avoid confusion.
  • A participial phrase placed at the beginning of the sentence is set off with a comma.
  • Other participial phrases may or may not need commas, depending on whether they are essential to the sentence.
participial phrases examples
Participial Phrases Examples
  • The girl throwing the water balloon is Tammy.
  • Tammy, throwing the water balloon, aimed at the target.
  • Running quickly after Tammy, I threw the balloon back.
  • Tammy, scared of getting wet, hid behind the bush.
  • You can also have a verb form ending in –ing that may serve as a noun. This is called a gerund.
  • It can be the subject of the sentence, the direct object, the predicate nominative, or the object of the preposition.
gerund examples
Gerund Examples
  • Flying is a skill birds must learn.

(gerund acts as a subject.)

  • Young birds practice flying.

(gerund acts as a direct object).

  • They can escape from dangers by flying.

(gerund acts as an object of the preposition)

  • My favorite sport is swimming. (gerund acts as a predicate nominative).
gerund phrase
Gerund Phrase
  • A gerund phrase is a group of words that includes a gerund and other words that completes its meaning.
  • Examples

Flying in a storm takes practice. (subject).

Birds learn flying in high winds at a young age.

(direct object).

Many birds owe their survival skills to flying away from enemies. (object of the preposition)

  • An infinitive is another verb form that may function as a noun (subject or direct object). It may also function as a adjective or an adverb.
  • An infinitive is formed from the word to plus a verb.
  • The word is not a preposition when it is used immediately before a verb.

Jenny is always looking for a chance to read. (infinitive)

She goes to the library once a week. (not an infinitive; the word to is used a preposition.

infinitives continued
Infinitives Continued…
  • An infinitive used as a noun can be the subject of a sentence or the direct object of the verb.
  • To read is enjoyable. (subject).
  • Jenny tries to read every day. (direct object).
  • An infinitive phrase is a group of words that includes the infinitive and other words that completes its meaning.
  • Example: Jenny has decided to read all of Sue Ellen Bridger’s books this summer.
verbal review
Verbal Review
  • Look for these words:
  • To + verb
  • words that end in –ed
  • Words that end in -ing
  • To + Verb
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Noun(Subject or Direct Object)

If the infinitive comes after


AV—direct object (noun)


Blank or nothing—subject

  • Words that end in –ing
  • Always function as a noun

If the gerund comes…

After AV—Direct Object

After LV—Predicate Nominative

After Preposition—Object of the Preposition

Before the main verb—Subject

  • Words that end in –ing or –ed
  • Functions as a verb or an adjective
  • HV or LV—verb
  • No HV or LV—adjective
  • ***Remember that past tense verbs end in –ed, so not all words that end in –ed are participles. When you see a word that ends in –ed, check to see if that word has a HV or LV in front of it. If it does have a HV or LV in front of it, then it IS A PARTICIPLE. If not, the word is NOT A PARTICIPLE.