Answer to English Grammar Question 6875

When do we have to use the past participle of the verb when the tense of your statement is in the present tense. This is because I get confused when someone asks me about this. Like for ex. I think your headset is broken. I know this sentence is write, but why use past participle (broken). Thanks

From member: Christy in USA

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Hi Christy, thanks for your question. English can be confusing and I think you’ve landed on one of the areas that is most confusing for a lot of English language learners. Let’s take a look at your example sentence:

Now what is that? Simple Present? Simple Past? Present Perfect? The sentence seems to be in the Present … but what is that past participle ‘broken’ doing in there?.Well, this sentence is in the Passive and that changes the way we structure the tenses.

We use the Passive form:

How to form the passive

Now, how do we make a sentence Passive? Let’s have a look at how we re-organize the tense structure (table taken from the English4Today English Grammar). Try and change these Passive examples into active sentences. I’ll do the first one for you:

Remember, the Passive uses the SUBJECT + TO BE + PAST PARTICIPLE


Subject verb ‘to be’ past participle
Simple present:
The house is cleaned every day.
Present continuous:
The house is being cleaned at the moment.
Simple past:
The house was cleaned yesterday.
Past continuous:
The house was being cleaned last week.
Present perfect:
The house has been cleaned since you left.
Past perfect:
The house had been cleaned before their arrival.
The house will be cleaned next week.
Future continuous:
The house will be being cleaned tomorrow.
Present conditional:
The house would be cleaned if they had visitors.
Past conditional:
The house would have been cleaned if it had been dirty.

Check out the section of the Passive in the English4Today Grammar for more information.

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