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A participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun, noun phrase, verb or verb phrase, and thus plays a role similar to that of an adjective or adverb. It is one of the types of nonfinite verb forms. Its name comes from the Latin participium, a calque of Greek metochḗ "partaking" or "sharing"; it is so named because the Ancient Greek and Latin participles "share" some of the categories of the adjective or noun (gender, number, case) and some of those of the verb (tense and voice).
Participles may correspond to the active voice (active participles), where the modified noun is taken to represent the agent of the action denoted by the verb; or to the passive voice (passive participles), where the modified noun represents the patient (undergoer) of that action. Participles in particular languages are also often associated with certain verbal aspects or tenses. The two types of participle in English are traditionally called the present participle (forms such as writing, singing and raising; these same forms also serve as gerunds and verbal nouns) and the past participle (forms such as written, sung and raised; regular participles such as the last, as well as some irregular ones, have the same form as the finite past tense).
In some languages, participles can be used in the periphrastic formation of compound verb tenses, aspects or voices. For example, one of the uses of the English present participle is to express continuous aspect (as in John is working), while the past participle can be used in expressions of perfect aspect and passive voice (as in Anne has written and Bill was killed).
A verb phrase based on a participle and having the function of a participle is called a participle phrase or participial phrase (participial is the adjective derived from participle). For example, looking hard at the sign and beaten by his father are participial phrases based respectively on an English present participle and past participle. Participial phrases generally do not require an expressed grammatical subject; therefore such a verb phrase also constitutes a complete clause (one of the types of nonfinite clause). As such, it may be called a participle clause or participial clause. (Occasionally a participial clause does include a subject, as in the English nominative absolute construction The king having died, ... .)