Participle adjectives

Some participles (like ‘bored’ or ‘boring’) can be used as adjectives. These are used in a slightly different way from normal adjectives. We usually use the past participle (ending in -ed) to talk about how someone feels:

  • I was really bored during the flight (NOT: I was really boring during the flight).
  • She’s interested in history (NOT: She’s really interesting in history).
  • John’s frightened of spiders (NOT: John’s frightening of spiders).
Participle adjectives
Participle adjectives

We usually use the present participle (ending in -ing) to talk about the person, thing, or situation which has caused the feeling:

  • It was such a long, boring flight (so I was bored).
  • I read a really interesting book about history (so I was interested).
  • Many people find spiders frightening (so they’re frightened when they see spiders).

Be careful! ‘I’m boring’ is very different from ‘I’m bored’! ‘I’m boring’ means I cause other people to be bored. This is not good! Here are some examples of when one person causes a feeling in another person:

  • I was talking to such a boring guy at the party. He talked about himself for an hour!
  • She’s a really interesting woman. She’s lived all over the world and speaks five languages.
  • My maths teacher at school was really frightening! He was always shouting at the students.

These participle adjectives make their comparative by using ‘more’ (not -er) and their superlative by using ‘most’ (not -est):

  • I was more frightened of dogs than spiders when I was a child.
  • That book is more boring than this one.
  • I think Dr Smith’s lesson was more interesting than Dr Brown’s.
  • For 24 hours on the flight to Australia, I was the most bored I’ve ever been.
  • I think this is the most interesting talk we’ve heard today.
  • It was the most frightening film that he’d ever seen.

List of common -ed and -ing adjectives

alarming
What an alarming noise!
alarmed
I was alarmed by the loud bang.
amusing
That TV programme is really
amusing.
amused
He was amused to hear his little
son singing in the bath.
boring
I’ve never seen such a boring
film!
bored
The students looked bored as the
teacher talked and talked.
confusing
I find these instructions very
confusing! Could you come and
help me?
confused
I was confused, because I asked two people and they told me two
different things.
depressing
This weather is depressing! Is it
ever going to stop raining?
depressed
I was feeling depressed, so I stayed at home with hot chocolate and a
good book.
embarrassing
That is the most embarrassing
photo! I look terrible!
embarrassed
John was really embarrassed when he fell over in front of his new
girlfriend.
exciting
It’s a really exciting book. I
couldn’t wait to find out what
happened at the end.
excited
I’m so excited! I’m going on holiday tomorrow!
exhausting
I hate doing housework! It’s
exhausting!
exhausted
Julie was so exhausted after her
exams, she spent the next three
days sleeping.
fascinating
The brain is fascinating, isn’t it?
It’s amazing how much it can do.
fascinated
Joan was fascinated by her
grandmother’s stories of life in the
1920s.
frightening
What a frightening film! I don’t
want to walk home on my own
now!
frightened
I was really frightened of bees
when I was little, but I don’t mind
them now.
frustrating
It’s frustrating when you want to
say something in another
language, but you don’t know the word.
frustrated
I tried all morning to send an email, but it wouldn’t work. I was so
frustrated!
interesting
That was a very interesting book.
interested
She’s interested in animals, so she’s thinking of studying to be a vet.
overwhelming
I find London a bit overwhelming. It’s so busy and noisy.
overwhelmed
Julie felt overwhelmed. She’d
moved house, got a new job
and was learning to drive, all
at the same time.
relaxing
A nice hot bath is so relaxing after a
long day.
relaxed
She was so relaxed, sitting in
front of the fire, that she didn’t want to move.
satisfying
John loves his new job as a teacher. He says it’s very satisfying when he makes a student understand.
satisfied
I’m very satisfied that I
managed to order the meal in French.
shocking
What a shocking crime! It’s terrible.
shocked
I was shocked when my
co-worked admitted stealing
some money.
surprising
It’s surprising how many people don’t want to travel to another country.
surprised
She was surprised when she
arrived at her class and found the other students doing an
exam. She’d thought it was a
normal lesson.
terrifying
What a terrifying dog! It’s
huge!
terrified
My little son is terrified of the dark. We always leave a light
on in his room at night.
thrilling
What thrilling music! It’s some of the
most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.
thrilled
I was thrilled to win first
prize in the competition.
tiring
My job is really tiring. I don’t get home until 10pm sometims.
tired
David’s too tired to come to
the cinema tonight. He’s
going to go to bed early.

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