Site-wide links

Participles of Emotional Response Verbs

As already noted, in conjunction with the auxiliary verbs be and have, the -ing and -ed forms of a verb serve to create a variety of verb tense formations. Used alone, however, the -ing and -ed forms can serve as ADJECTIVES. In this capacity, they add information to noun phrases in the sentence and are called "participles." To avoid the confusion and misunderstanding that occurs with the use of the terms "present participle" and "past participle," the terms "-ing participle" and "-ed participle" are used in this module.

Distinguishing -ed and -ing Participles

The participles of emotional response verbs serve a very special function--to distinguish between the SOURCE of the emotion and the EXPERIENCER of the emotion. This concept is key to clearing the confusion between pairs such as boring/bored and interesting/interested.

  • The -ed participle always relates to the EXPERIENCER of the emotion or mental state.

A frightened dog might wake its owner in the middle of the night.
(dog = EXPERIENCER of the fright)

  • The -ing participle always relates to the SOURCE of the emotion or mental state.

The frightening storm lasted two hours.
(storm = SOURCE of the fright)

In these examples the -ed/-ing participles function as adjectives, adding information to the nouns dog and storm, respectively, and indicating whether the noun is the EXPERIENCER of the feeling/emotional response or the SOURCE of it.

As you can see from the examples, the -ed/-ing participles are NOT functioning as verbs in the sentences; other words are available to serve that need. In the first example above, the verb is might wake. In the second example, the verb is lasted.

Tense and Participles

Importantly, -ed/-ing participles are independent of the time (tense) of a sentence. In the following sentences, motivated and surprising have no connection to the time expressed by the verbs seem/seemed and will share/have shared.

The students seem motivated to learn English.
The students seemed motivated to learn English.

The scientists will share their surprising results.
The scientists have shared their surprising results.