Interested or Interesting? How To Use Participle Adjectives Correctly | DailyStep English

Interested or Interesting? How To Use Participle Adjectives Correctly


What is the difference between Interesting and Interested? Bored and Boring? Embarrassed or Embarrassing?

How to avoid mistakes using participle adjectivesIf you use these participle adjectives incorrectly, you might say the opposite of what you mean! I hear even advanced learners making such mistakes. So please take this FREE QUIZ + AUDIO LESSON to make sure you understand this important grammar topic, which is essential for English exams such as IELTS where you need to describe how you feel about something.

First, take this FREE QUIZ :

Participle Adjectives – are they Interested or Interesting?

by Jane Lawson at

It is such a common mistake – and I hear it even from advanced learners! I’m talking about the confusion between present and past participle adjectives. For example, Interested and Interesting, Bored and Boring, Excited and Exciting.

But first – quick grammar check…. Do you know what a participle is?

It’s simple: all verbs have a present participle (verb + -ING) and a past participle, which in regular verbs is always VERB + -ED.

So, how can you use participle as adjectives? Let’s take a look:

1. This book is interesting.

2. I am interested in this book.

In sentence 1 the present participle INTERESTING describes the book

In sentence 2, the past participle INTERESTED describes how I feel about the book.

So, the rule is this:

The Present participle (- ING) describes a person or thing

The past participle (- ED) describes how you feel about a person or thing.

This is an easy rule to remember, so if you learn it, your English will immediately get much better.

Why is this? Because we can make participle adjectives out of so many verbs. Also, spoken and written English exams (such as IELTS, Cambridge First Certificate, Cambridge Proficiency and so on) ask you to say how you feel about things. So if you get these participle adjectives mixed up, you will lose marks in exams and people will misunderstand you when you speak.

**Always remember to learn the correct preposition, for example INTERESTED IN, WORRIED ABOUT, BORED WITH and so on.**

If you really want to impress your examinermake sure you use different ways of expressing the same thing. So in addition to sentences 1 and 2 above, you can also express the same ideas like this:

3. This book interests me. (note: the passive form of this is “I am interested in this book.”)

4. I find this book interesting(note: this means “I think that this book is interesting.”)

Here are some more examples of participle adjectives, showing their correct preposition:


Present participle

Past participle



excited about



relaxed  about



frightened of



bored with



worried about





It’s time to check your understanding! Choose the right form in the sentences below. The answers are at the bottom of this blog page:

1. The film was very __________  . (frightened/frightening)

2. He was so __________  after his holiday .  (relaxed/relaxing)

3. Your new job sounds __________  - I guess you are very __________ about it. (excited/exciting)

4. These instructions are really __________ . I’m so __________. Can you help me please? (confused / confusing)

5. I’m __________. I find this museum  very __________ . I can’t stop yawning! (bored/boring)

6. He is extremely __________ about this political situation. He finds it __________. (worried/worrying)

The answers to this quiz are at the bottom of this page.

Now write your own sentences using participle adjectives. Make sure they are true to your own life as this will help you to remember them better.

That’s all for Audio Word Study #132 from Jane Lawson at

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Quiz Answers


1. The film was very frightening.

2. He was so relaxed after his holiday .  

3. Your new job sounds exciting - I guess you are very excited about it. 

4. These instructions are really confusing . I’m so confused. Can you help me please? 

5. I’m bored. I find this museum  very boring. I can’t stop yawning! 

6. He is extremely worried about this political situation. He finds it worrying

How did you do in the Quiz? Don't forget to write your own sentences using participle adjectives.

How to use English participle adjectives correctly. Do we say embarrassing or embarrassed?