Past & Present Participles as Adjectives

This is a discussion thread · 5 replies
I would like to know the difference between the adjectives ending in -ed and -ing.
Thread is locked
Here's a clue: -ed and -ing are also stuck onto verbs, and they connote when or how the action takes place. Adding '-ed' makes a lot of verbs past tense, and it also creates the participle for perfect tenses: walk, walked, have walked. What you end up with is a sense of completed action. So, an adjective ending in '-ed' is really a participle used as an adjective, and it, too, implies completed action.

Ex. A washed car is clean. -->The act of washing happened in the past and has been completed. The car is clean as a result. The adjective 'washed' is the participal of the verb 'wash'.

Adding '-ing' makes a verb progressive, meaning that the action is ongoing and incomplete: am walking, was walking, have been walking, etc. When a verb with an '-ing' ending is used as an adjective, it also implies ongoing and incomplete action.

Ex. She's a charming girl. -->The girl has a constant aura of charm that does not dissipate or weaken. Her charm is constant.
Junior Member70
Thread is locked
In addition to what Nestor said, with most verbs, -ing and -ed adjectives show whether the noun is the agent or receiver of the action expressed by the participle, which means they show two completely different situations.
"A frightening animal" is very different from "a frightened animal". Yet, neither is more 'complete' than the other. They are just different.

"A frightening animal" is an animal that will frighten you. The animal is the 'agent' or 'doer' (so to speak) of the action.
"A frightened animal" is one that has been frightened by someone/something else. In this case, the animal is the 'receiver' of the action expressed by the participle (or 'participial', as these adjectives are also called).

Other examples:
"an interesting film" - "an interested look on her face"
"an amusing joke" - "an amused audience"
"surprising news" - "a surprised smile"

Regular Member826
Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
Thread is locked
Looking for ESL work?: Try our EFL / TOEFL / ESL Jobs Section!

That's a much better answer. It's obvious that you're the professional and I'm the amateur.

But...I stand by my assertion that one component of the difference between present and past participle adjectives is the 'completeness' of the action.
Thread is locked
I just find it hard to use the agent or receiver rule to explain "a good-looking man" because the man is being looked rather than looking at others in this case.
Thread is locked
When the verb base ("look" in this case) is intransitive, the -ed form won't make sense.

There's no such thing as "The man is looked good", so there is no "good-looked man".
There is, however, "The man looks good", so there is a "good-looking man".

The same would happen for other intransitives like "sleep": "a sleeping man", but not "a slept man".

Probably the full name of these participles should be "Present Active Participle" and "Past Passive Participle".

It might be interesting to think about what a "Present Passive Participle" or a "Past Active Participle" would be!!! Emotion: smile
Veteran Member73,454
Moderator: A super-user who takes care of the forums. You have the ability to message a moderator privately should you wish. These users have a range of elevated privileges including the deletion, editing and movement of posts when needed.Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
Thread is locked