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 a 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. ( See Appendix F for a list of irregular past participles. )

The Family has purchased a television.


The Poem was written by paul.


In the first sentence the past participle purchased is part of the verb because it is accompanied by has. In the second sentence the past participle written is part of the verb because it is accompanied by was.

A past participle is an adjective when it is not accompanied by some form of be or have.

The television purchased  yesterday was expensive


The Poem    written     by paul appeared in the magazine.


In the first sentence purchased 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 written is an adjective rather than a verb because it is not accompanied by a form of be or have ( and there is a verb, appeared, letter 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.

Example :

The packages …………….. mailed at the post office will arrive Monday.

(a)    have

(b)   were

(c)    them

(d)   just

In this example, if you look only at the first few words of the sentence, it appears that packages is the subject and mailed 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 that the verb is will arrive. You will then recognize that mailed is a participal adjective and is therefore not part of the verb. Answer (A), and (B) are incorrect because mailed is an adjective and does not need a helping verb such as have or were. Answer (C) is incorrect because there is no need for the object them. Answer (D)  is the best answer to this question.


A past participle often ends in –ed, but there are also many irregular past participles. For many verbs, including –ed verbs, the simple past and the past participle are the same can be easily confused. The –ed form of the verb can be (I) the simple past, (2) the past participle of a verb, or (3) an adjective.

  1. She painted this picture
  2. She has painted this picture
  3. The picture painted by Karen is now in a museum

TOEFL EXERCISE Skill 5 : 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. There indicate if the sentences are correct ( C ) or Incorrect ( I ).

  1. ———— The money was offered by the client was not accepted.
  2. ———— The car listed in the advertisement had already stalled.
  3. ———— The chapters were taught by the professor this morning will be on next week’s exam.
  4. ———— The loaves of bread were baked in a brick oven at a low temperature for many hours.
  5. ———— The ports were reached by the sailors were under the control of a foreign nation.
  6. ———— Those suspected in the string of robberies were arrested by the police.
  7. ———— The pizza is served in this restaurant is the tastiest in the country.
  8. ———— The courses are listed on the second page of the brochure have several prerequisites.
  9. ———— All the tenants were invited to the Independence Day barbecue at the apartement complex.
  10. ———— Any bills paid by the first of the month will be credited to your account by the next day.

Answer Exercise Skill 5 :

  1. Incorrect
  2. Correct
  3. Incorrect
  4. Correct
  5. Incorrect
  6. Correct
  7. Incorrect
  8. Incorrect
  9. Correct
  10. Correct

Refrensi : ” Longman Preparation Course For The TOEFL TEST – THE PAPER TEST-, PHILIPPS”