“Here is Subzero! Now . . . plain zero!”—everyone’s favorite pun-crazy Governator, after dispatching of a hockey-themed assassin in the participially named documentary “The Running Man”
This week we examine the participle, a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective. How derivative, right?
Unfortunately, our society always reminds us that we live in derivative times:
Because they emerge from a verb stem, participles fit right in our derivative world. Participles are not verbs, but they are verbals: forms of verbs functioning as other parts of speech. Specifically, participles function as adjectives to modify nouns and pronouns.
This will make more sense as we explore how to create the two main types of participles: present and past.
Present participles always end in ing.
Example: The meddling teenagers were transformed into jawsome shark-human hybrids.
*The participle meddling comes from the verb meddle and modifies teenagers.
Most past participles end in ed. Because of irregular verbs, however, we have a variety of endings—en, ne, d, n, and t—and no easy rules for making them. The best way to figure out the past participle for a given irregular verb is to consult your dictionary.
Example: The incredulous police realized their suspect had shattered the bounds of human achievement: He blew a 0.548%!!
*The participle amazed comes from the verb amaze and modifies police.
We’ll have to save participial phrases and dangling participles for another day. For now, you’ve got the basics.
Now get out there and work it, smoochie!