Participles as adjectives

Participles can often be used as adjectives before nouns, or after be and other copular verbs.

  • A fallen leaf
  • A lost dog
  • An interesting book
  • Screaming children

Not all participles can be used as adjectives before nouns – for example, we say a lost dog but not a found dog. It is not possible to give clear rules about this – students will learn the most usual combinations as they learn the rest of their English.

We often use participles after nouns in order to define or identify the nouns.

  • The people questioned gave their own versions of the story. (= The people who were questioned gave their own versions of the story.) (NOT The questioned people gave their own versions of the story.)

We often use those with a participle to mean ‘the ones who are / were’.

  • Those questioned gave very different opinions. (= The ones who were questioned gave different opinions.)
  • Those selected should report for duty on Monday.

The exact meaning of a few participles depends upon their position in the sentence.

A concerned person = a worried person
The person concerned = the people who is / are affected or involved
An adopted child = a child who is brought up by people who are not his / her biological parents
The course of action adopted = the course of action is / was chosen.