Again, all verbs will start with their infinitive form. We’ve already looked at the different tenses, subjunctive verbs, and more. Today I want to examine Present Participles and Gerunds.
Present Participles are created by taking the infinitive form of the verb (to smile), drop the “to” and add “-ing.” (“Smiling“). Present participles modify nouns, for example in the form of an adjective – “The smiling man.” Because present participles can be easily combined with other words to form a phrase, it actually goes farther than adjectives can. For example, “The man, smiling a hello to his wife, arrived at the party right on time.” See, a simple adjective couldn’t add that much information – but a Present Participle Phrase can.
Past Participles are usually created by taking the Past Perfect tense of the verb (Had Smiled) and dropping the “had.” You should remember that Past Perfect is the tense we use when comparing two events in the past – “Before the clock struck twelve, I had smiled at my brother.” So for “To Smile,” it becomes (“Smiled“).
Now you’ll probably notice that this looks a LOT like the Simple Past tense of the verb (I think of this as the normal past tense – “I smiled“). Unfortunately, that’s not always going to be true. For many verbs, both the Simple Past and the Past Perfect are the same, making Past Participles easy. But a lot of verbs are irregular – meaning that their form changes between the Simple Past (SP) and Past Perfect (PP) tense. Some examples (You can find a more complete list here) include:
- To Arise (SP – Arose | PP – Had Arisen)
- To Catch (SP – Chose | PP – Had Chosen)
- To Fly (Sp – Flew | PP – Had Flown)
- To Drink (Sp – Drank | PP – Had Drunk)
- To Ride (Sp – Rode | PP – Had Ridden)
Like Present Participles, Past Participles are used to create Participle Phrases – “The man, heard yelling at his wife, apparently lost it and went berserk.”Try to remember that when a verb is functioning as a noun modifier, especially in an adjective form, it should be the Present or Past Participle form.
Gerunds look very similar to the present participle (“smiling”) but instead of modifying a noun, gerunds actually are nouns (in function at least). “Smiling makes me tired” -‘smiling’ is the subject of this sentence, and thus, must be a noun. As a noun, gerunds don’t always have to be the subject; they can also function as the direct object of a sentence. “You should practice smiling for the camera.”