How Do I Teach Participal Adjectives?

Participial Adjectives confuse even the best English speakers, so it’s understandable that they are nearly incomprehensible for Japanese learners of English. As a teacher, I still have difficulty understanding the difference between the usage of “bored” and “boring”. A handy trick to remember is that adjectives ending with -ed often represent a feeling.

Additionally, when teaching the -ing forms it is best to avoid the verb meanings, as they confuse the student. A school that I once worked at had a teacher attempt to teach “boring” by using an auger on a piece of wood, which resulted in the student – a carpenter by trade – to associated “boring” with “exciting”.

When teaching the participal adjectives, teach them in pairs. The teacher performs an action that is represented by -ing, and the student explains their emotion in terms of the matching -ed form. For example, the teacher crawls under the desk while they have the student pretend to watch television. Maneuver your head between their legs and the table, and look up at them. The student should exclaim “I am surprised! This situation is surprising!”. Switch and repeat the exercise. For exciting/excited, have the student hold a balloon and dance while you clap. Avoid teaching pleasuring/pleasured.

Let the student know that not all adjectives follow this pattern. There are pairs such as scary/scared, comfortable/comforted, and delightful/delighted that should be learned separately.

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7 Responses to How Do I Teach Participal Adjectives?

  1. Gregg says:

    That’s actually pretty good advice.
    I once had a student for a while, who said that she had been “pleasured by her favorite soccer team after they won”.

  2. Kimmywolfie says:

    Is it a common thing for students to say this? I teach in Kyoto, and back when Hakuho was really big (popularity-wise), I had about 4 students say that because he won matches he pleasured the students.
    When I told the students what it meant they were always embarrassed…except for this one older lady of around 65 who said, in her low-level English, “It will be my favorite day”. She was lost in thought for the remainder of the class.

  3. Rod says:

    My head nearly exploded when a student said that she was pleasured because she won at pachinko.
    I’ve been going to the wrong pachinko parlors.

  4. sapsoetijvk says:

    That tag of ‘leggy surprise’ is the perfect descriptor for this activity, Bob.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I’ve understand your stuff previously and the information is just extremely great. Enjoyable, and also sensible! hahahah
    One point of advise is to be adding more examples in your posts. Not everyone learns English in Japan only!! haha
    best regards, Thomas

  6. Karumin says:

    Which is most correct?
    There is exciting in my body.
    There is excited in my body.
    There is excitement in my body.

    This is for test so respond quickly, please.

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