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    #1

    broken - participle, adjective or both?

    1) We couldn't see through the broken window.
    2) The window was broken.


    From what I've read so far, I came to conclusion that both 'broken' in 1 and 2 must be participles, since they are needed to construct participle adjectives (in 1) and required in passive constructions (2).

    1) My question is whether it is possible in 1 to call the inflectional form both participle and adjective.
    2) What should we call the form? In my opinion, a participle.

    Thank you for your answers in advance.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2
    I am not a teacher.

    But isn't one definition of a participle a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective? If so, then in 1) "broken" is a participle behaving as an adjective.

    You say 2) is in the passive voice, but "broken" could just as easily be predicative. The way I automatically understood 2) was that "broken" was an adjective.

    The window was broken.
    The window was dirty.

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    #3
    You say 2) is in the passive voice, but "broken" could just as easily be predicative. The way I automatically understood 2) was that "broken" was an adjective.
    I see your point. I thought about it in the same way. Then I got confused by the definition of participle on Wikipedia: "A participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun or noun phrase, and thus plays a role similar to that of an adjective or adverb."

    Accordingly, why can't we simply assume that 'broken' is a participle, which by definition behaves as an adjective?

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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by tom3m View Post
    Accordingly, why can't we simply assume that 'broken' is a participle, which by definition behaves as an adjective?
    Because a participle doesn't always behave as an adjective.
    "The window was broken." It was in pieces; it didn't work properly. This is an adjective.
    "The window was broken." Someone broke it; it occurred in a series of incidents that tells a story. "The thieves went to the rear of the buliding. The window was broken with a rock, and they gained access to the loot." This is a participle. It's not behaving like an adjective.

    Again, it depends whether you want to discuss "broken" within or without a context.

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    #5
    Thank you, Raymott, for having thrown some light on it,
    so even this depends on context. And when you've covered the information about 'broken' within contex, I am wondering if it is possible to discuss without it, because without context, it can be both, can't it?

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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by tom3m View Post
    Thank you, Raymott, for having thrown some light on it,
    so even this depends on context. And when you've covered the information about 'broken' within contex, I am wondering if it is possible to discuss without it, because without context, it can be both, can't it?
    Most words can be interpreted differently, depending on the context in which they are used.

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    #7
    And to what extent are participles able to form adjectives? For example 'made'. As distinct from broken, I couldn't find it in a dictionary as an adjective, but I can still make sentences like:

    1) It was made by John. (passive)
    2) It was nicely made. (???)

    Is 'made' again an adjective though it doesn't appear in dictionaries? If so, can all participles 'make' adjectives this way?
    Last edited by tom3m; 12-Mar-2014 at 08:25.

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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by tom3m View Post
    And to what extent are participles able to form adjectives.
    'Made' becomes an adjective in 'hand-made', 'man-made'. A Mafia thug can become a "made man" which means that other families have to respect him (if I understand the term correctly). There are probably participles that don't form adjectives readily. I can't think of any off hand.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=made+man

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