Boring or Bored? Interesting or Interested? (Participial Adjectives)

English has many adjectives that describe feelings which end in ~ed or ~ing, such as bored and boring. These adjectives actually come from verbs. For example:

  • This book bores (verb) me. The book is boring (adjective). I am bored (adjective).
  • This movie interests (verb) me. The movie is interesting (adjective). I am interested (adjective).

These adjectives are called participial adjectives. They are made by the participle of a verb. For regular verbs, participles end in ~ing (boring, the present participle) or ~ed (bored, the past participle).

Students often have a difficulty choosing the correct adjective in a sentences. This lesson will explain how to use them correctly.

Adjectives that Describe Feelings: ~ed Adjectives

Adjectives like boring/interesting describe something that causes a feeling. For example:

It was a boring movie. The movie was boring. <– The movie is the cause of the feeling. It creates the feeling.

a boring book

This book is boring.

Adjectives that Describe Feelings: ~ing Adjectives

Adjectives like bored/interested describe the person (or animal) that is affected by this feeling. For example:

She was a bored girl. The girl was bored. <– She, the girl, is the one who feels the feeling. She is the feeler.

a bored girl

She is bored.

These adjectives always describe a living thing that can feel (a person, animal, or alien maybe!). A thing (e.g. a book) cannot be bored. But, it can be boring.

Be Careful: People Can Cause Feelings

Sometimes the cause of a feeling isn’t a book or a movie. Sometimes, it’s another person. For example, there are intersting books and there are interesting people. My friend Jay is interesting. He is the cause of the feeling of interest in people he talks to. For example:

Carol had a date with John. John was boring. Carol was bored, so she left.

Common Participial Adjectives

Here are some basic adjectives that students should know.

verb~ing adj (describes cause)~ed adjective (describes feeler)
boreboringbored
interestinterestinginterested
exciteexcitingexcited
confuseconfusingconfused
surprisesurprisingsurprised
tiretiringtired
annoyannoyingannoyed

There are many more participial adjectives as well.

Do you think you understand? Take the Quiz!

This grammar lesson bores me. I am  because grammar is .

English doesn’t excite me. English is not  so I am not .

My job is . I have to carry heavy boxes all day. When I get home from work, I’m . If there is an  show on TV, I’ll watch it. If not, I’ll go to bed.

I’m taking an English course at university. It is difficult. Sometimes English grammar is . Yesterday, my teacher tried to explain participial adjectives. I was . I was  that everyone understood it but me.

I don’t like people who speak loudly on their mobile phones. They are . Sometimes it sounds like they are arguing. Maybe they are just  about what they are talking about.

Answers

This grammar lesson bores me. I am bored because grammar is boring.

English doesn’t excite me. English is not exciting so I am not excited.

My job is tiring. I have to carry heavy boxes all day. When I get home from work, I’m tired. If there is an interesting show on TV, I’ll watch it. If not, I’ll go to bed.

I’m taking an English course at university. It is difficult. Sometimes English grammar is confusing. Yesterday, my teacher tried to explain participial adjectives. I was confused. I was surprised that everyone understood it but me. 

I don’t like people who speak loudly on their mobile phones. They are annoying. Sometimes it sounds like they are arguing. Maybe they are just excited about what they are talking about. 

 Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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25 comments on “Boring or Bored? Interesting or Interested? (Participial Adjectives)

  1. marwa (Posted on 9-26-2014 at 13:15) Reply

    this topic is very interesting& very important to me

  2. Boominathan,L (Posted on 9-27-2014 at 10:15) Reply

    Nice explanation, interesting, expecting a lot of postings.

  3. N.L.srinivas (Posted on 9-29-2014 at 01:37) Reply

    very excellent and useful to all who are interested in English like me
    Thanks a lot

  4. jawahir (Posted on 9-29-2014 at 01:39) Reply

    i am very interesting to understand
    ​​Adjectives that Describe Feelings: ~ing Adjectives.

  5. Lami (Posted on 10-29-2014 at 15:51) Reply

    It’s very interstuing lesson, it was very helpful. I will share it with my classmates.
    Thank you

  6. john learn (Posted on 10-30-2014 at 22:32) Reply

    It’s good for my student…Great

  7. Lucas (Posted on 6-24-2015 at 13:56) Reply

    Help me a lot. thank you

  8. kbs (Posted on 1-30-2016 at 07:28) Reply

    Excellent

  9. gentur (Posted on 3-13-2016 at 13:41) Reply

    thank you..it’s really useful for me..!

  10. Vesile (Posted on 4-2-2016 at 16:17) Reply

    It helped me.thank you

  11. Anonymous (Posted on 4-10-2016 at 21:49) Reply

    Easy to understand. Thanks

  12. Kyaw Wai Naing (Posted on 4-27-2016 at 12:12) Reply

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  13. David Yeboah (Posted on 9-24-2016 at 13:28) Reply

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  14. Thanks (Posted on 10-6-2016 at 01:20) Reply

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  15. Marie (Posted on 10-14-2016 at 18:36) Reply

    It was very helpful…. Thank You!

  16. Anonymous (Posted on 10-25-2016 at 23:05) Reply

    Simple and clear. Thanks.

  17. Egyptian 2017 (Posted on 1-2-2017 at 13:06) Reply

    Excellent ! You made it so easy !Thank you .

  18. Ali (Posted on 1-8-2017 at 11:10) Reply

    It was Highly useful.

  19. Steve (Posted on 1-10-2017 at 12:08) Reply

    Why do we say “The mother is loving” and “The baby is loved?” That seems to be the opposite of the usual rule that the cause of the emotion ends in -ing and the person feeling the emotion ends in -ed.

    Perhaps it has something to do with “love” being stative. Also, the meaning is a bit different than usual. “Loving” is a general statement about the mother, not the way she specifically relates to the baby. Conversely, “loved” is a statement that someone loves the baby, not a general characteristic of the baby. Still, I can’t figure out precisely what’s going on here.

    1. Horatius (Posted on 1-25-2017 at 15:01) Reply

      Steve: ” Why do we say “The mother is loving” and “The baby is loved?” , not in that way, but Yes : ” She is a loving mother, he/she is a beloved baby”

  20. mb Post author (Posted on 1-10-2017 at 21:48) Reply

    Hello Steve. If you check your dictionary, you probably won’t find ‘loved’ as an adjective (but you will find ‘beloved’). Re: the sentence ‘The baby is loved’, I would say that is a passive construction.

  21. Steve (Posted on 1-16-2017 at 11:37) Reply

    Thanks, mb.

    I think my question wasn’t clear. I understand that you can use the past and present participles of any verb of feeling as adjectives: bored/boring, interested/interesting, exhausted/exhausting, frightened/frightening, etc. It’s a rule of grammar, I believe — a way participles can be used, called “participial adjectives” — not a special definition for each word. The ordinary rule is that the past participial refers to the person who has the feeling and the present participle is the person or thing causing the feeling. “The student is bored.”, “The class is boring.” This web page explains that useage.

    My question is why “loved” and “loving” work the opposite of other participial adjectives. The past participial, in this case, is the person causing the feeling, while the present participial is the person having the feeling.

    The best I can come up with is that participial adjectives are rarely used with stative verbs. Thus, “love being stative,”, “loved” and “loving”, despite appearance, aren’t really participial adjectives but rather plain adjectives with their own meanings. (Incidentally, googling “define loved” does hit a lot of dictionary definitions.) That’s not very satisfying, though, because the statements of the general rule which I’ve seen (including the one on this page) don’t limit it to dynamic verbs (although the examples are all dynamic verbs.) I made up the rule myself based on observation, not any explanation I can find.

    Can someone do better?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-16-2017 at 16:23) Reply

      Hello. Re: ‘She is a loving mother’, I wouldn’t say this is an exception to the rule that the present participle is the person/thing causing the feeling. The mother is not having the feeling; her actions are creating it / she is causing it. ‘She is a loving mother. Her children are loved’. To me this is the same as ‘It is a boring movie. The audience is bored.’

      Am I overlooking something?

  22. Steve (Posted on 1-16-2017 at 11:46) Reply

    Incidentally, at least some other stative verbs work like “love:” “She is heard.” “He is known.” Perhaps the fact that “She is hearing” usually means that she’s not deaf supports the theory that these are special meanings of words derived from stative verbs, not participial adjectives.

  23. Steve (Posted on 1-17-2017 at 11:59) Reply

    Thanks for the thought, mb.

    Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that “She is a loving mother” is different from “she is a bored student.” The former is a general statement about the type of person she is while the latter is a statement about a feeling she’s having at a moment in time. In other words, “She is a loving mother” doesn’t describe a feeling, but rather a personality trait.

    I’m inclined to think that participles formed from stative verbs don’t describe an instance of a feeling, so they aren’t covered by the rule described on this page.

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