Past participles can cause confusion in the Structure section of the TOEFL test because a past participle can be either an adjective or a part of the verb. The past participle is the form of the verb that appears with have or be. It often ends in -ed, but there are also many irregular past participles in English.
The mailman has left a letter in the mailbox. (Left is VERB)
The classes were taught by Professor Smith. (Taught is VERB)
In the first sentence, the past participle left is part of the verb because it is accompanied by has. In the second sentence, the past participle taught is part of the verb because it is accompanied by were.
A past participle is an adjective when it is not accompanied by some form of be or have.
The letter left in the mailbox was for me. (Left is ADJECTIVE)
The classes taught by Professor Smith were very interesting. (Taught is ADJECTIVE)
In the first sentence, left is an adjective rather than a verb because it is not accompanied by a form of be or have (and there is a verb, was, later in the sentence). In the second sentence, taught is an adjective rather than a verb because it is not accompanied by a form of be or have (and there is a verb, were, later in the sentence).
The following example shows how a past participle can be confused with the verb in the Structure section of the TOEFL test.
The bread _____ baked this morning smelled delicious.
In this example, if you look only at the first few words of the sentence, it appears that bread is the subject and baked is either a complete verb or a past participle that needs a helping verb. But if you look further in the sentence, you will see the verb smelled. You will then recognize that baked is a participial adjective and is therefore not part of the verb. Answers (A) and (B) are incorrect because baked is an adjective and does not need a helping verb such as has or was. Answer (C) is incorrect because there is no need for the subject it. Answer (D) is the best answer to this question.
EXERCISE 4: Each of the following sentences contains one or more past participles. Underline the subjects once and the verbs twice. Circle the past participles, and label them as adjectives or verbs. Then indicate if the sentences are correct (C) or incorrect (I).
1. The food is served in this restaurant is delicious. (Incorrect)
The sentence should be “The food served in this restaurant is delicious”.
is served is incorrect, it should be served (past participle as an Adjective).
Subject is The food and Verb is IS
2. The plane landed on the deserted runway. (Correct)
Subject is The place and Verb is landed
Deserted is past participle as an adjective
3. The unexpected guests arrived just at dinnertime. (Correct)
Subject is unexpected guests and Verb is arrived
Unexpected is past participle as an adjective
4. The courses are listed in the catalogue are required courses. (Incorrect)
The sentence should be The course listed in the dialogue are required courses.
Subject is The course and Verb is are required.
are listed is inccorect, but it should be listed (be past participle as an adjective)
5. The teacher found the lost exam. (Correct)
Subject is The teacher and Verb is found
Lost is past participle as an adjective
6. The small apartment very crowded and disorganized. (Incorrect)
Subject is the small apartment but there is no Verb
The sentence should be The small apartment is very crowded and disorganized.
Crowded and disorganized are past participle as adjectives.
7. The photographs developed yesterday showed Sam and his friends. (Correct)
Subject is The photograph and Verb is showed
Developed is past participle as adjective
8. The locked drawer contained the unworn jewels. (Correct)
Subject is the locked drawer and Verb is contained
Locked and unworn are past participle as adjectives
9. The tree was blown over in the storm was cut into logs. (Incorrect)
The sentence should be The tree blown over in the storm was cut into logs
was blown should be blown (past participle as adjective)
Subject is The tree and verb is was cut
10. The students registered in this course are listed on that sheet of paper. (Correct)
Subject is The students and Verb is are listed
Registered is past participle as adjective
listed is past participle as verb