Some participles in either the present or past form (like ‘interested’ or ‘interesting’) 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:
- The meeting was very boring (NOT: I was really boring during the meeting).
- We were really excited about the game. (NOT: We’re really exciting about the game).
- She’s frightened of heights (NOT: She’s frightening of heights).
We usually use the present participle (ending in -ing) to talk about the feeling the person, thing, or situation has caused:
- I felt bored at the meeting. (so I was bored).
- That was an exciting game. (so I was excited).
- Many people find heights frightening (so they’re frightened when they are high up).
Commonly confused pairs of adjectives ending in –ing and –ed are:interesting, interested; boring, bored; exciting, excited; embarrassing,embarrassed.
‘I’m boring’ is very different from ‘I’m bored’! ‘I’m boring’ means I make other people bored. Here are some examples of when one person causes a feeling in another person:
- I was talking to such a boring man at the party. He talked about himself for an hour!
- He’s a really interesting man. He’s lived all over the world and speaks three languages.
- My sports 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 interested in football than studying when I was a child.
- This film is more boring than his last one.
- I find history lessons are more interesting than maths.
- The film never seemed to end, I was the most bored I’ve ever been.
- I think this is the most interesting place we have visited today.
- It was the most frightening experience I have ever had.
List of common -ed and -ing adjectives
What an alarming noise!
I was alarmed by the loud bang.
That TV programme is really amusing.
He was amused to hear his little son singing in the bath.
I’ve never seen such a boring film!
The students looked bored as the teacher talked and talked.
I find these instructions very confusing! Could you come and help me?
I was confused, because I asked two people and they told me two different things.
This weather is depressing! Is it ever going to stop raining?
I was feeling depressed, so I stayed at home with hot chocolate and a good book.
That is the most embarrassing photo! I look terrible!
John was really embarrassed when he fell over in front of his new girlfriend.
It’s a really exciting book. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened at the end.
I’m so excited! I’m going on holiday tomorrow!
I hate doing housework! It’s exhausting!
Julie was so exhausted after her exams, she spent the next three days sleeping.
The brain is fascinating, isn’t it? It’s amazing how much it can do.
Joan was fascinated by her grandmother’s stories of life in the 1920s.
What a frightening film! I don’t want to walk home on my own now!
I was really frightened of bees when I was little, but I don’t mind them now.
It’s frustrating when you want to say something in another language, but you don’t know the word.
I tried all morning to send an email, but it wouldn’t work. I was so frustrated!
That was a very interesting book.
She’s interested in animals, so she’s thinking of studying to be a vet.
I find London a bit overwhelming. It’s so busy and noisy.
Julie felt overwhelmed. She’d moved house, got a new job and was learning to drive, all at the same time.
A nice hot bath is so relaxing after a long day.
She was so relaxed, sitting in front of the fire, that she didn’t want to move.
John loves his new job as a teacher. He says it’s very satisfying when he makes a student understand.
I’m very satisfied that I managed to order the meal in French.
What a shocking crime! It’s terrible.
I was shocked when my co-worked admitted stealing some money.
It’s surprising how many people don’t want to travel to another country.
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.
What a terrifying dog! It’s huge!
My little son is terrified of the dark. We always leave a light on in his room at night.
What thrilling music! It’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.
I was thrilled to win first prize in the competition.
My job is really tiring. I don’t get home until 10pm sometimes.
David’s too tired to come to the cinema tonight. He’s going to go to bed early.