If we say that someone is ‘bored’, it means that their mood is one of boredom – they are not stimulated by what is happening (‘I’m so bored today, I need to do something different’).

If we say someone is ‘boring’, however, the sentence takes on a much more personal, critical tone. This describes the person themselves, and the effect they have on other people. It means the person is dull, lifeless, not fun to be with (‘He’s so boring, I don’t like to spend time with him’).

Clearly, we need to choose our participle adjectives wisely. Generally, past participle adjectives – for example ‘bored’, ‘interested’, ‘excited’, ‘motivated’, ‘stimulated’, ‘frightened’ (they typically end in ‘-ed’) – are used to talk about how someone feels at a particular moment in time. It should be noted that there are exceptions to the ‘-ed’ rule – e.g. the past participle ‘upset’ (‘I was upset by her comments’).

Present participle adjectives generally end in ‘-ing’ – e.g. ‘boring’, ‘interesting’, frightening’, etc. – and refer to the person (or thing) that has caused the feeling.

Check out and try out our exercise on participle adjectives.

It’s a very interesting exercise!

A. Porter

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