Participles and their Uses


A participle is a form someway between a verb and an adjective. English examples include leaving, having left, and about to leave. Like verbs, they describe the action of the subject. Like adjectives, they can describe a person, place, or thing: “Leaving, she closed the door.”

Latin has four participles. They are the present active participle (washing), the perfect (i.e. past) passive participle (having been washed), the future active participle (about to wash), and the future passive participle (about to be washed). Don’t worry about this last one for the moment. It has a special name (the gerundive) and a special job, and we will look at it in a different section.

Let’s look at how those first three participles are formed.