Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

He looks around the desolated street.

In this sentence, If I'm not wrong, 'desolated' is an adjective, right? Or is it a verb? In the dictionary 'desolate' is defined as an adjective. "Desolated" is defined as the past tense of "desolate".

  1. Only verb can be in past tense or even adjective can be in past tense?
  2. In the above sentence "desolated" is a verb or an adjective? My guess is it's an adjective here.
  3. Is "desolated" a past participle of the verb "desolate"?
  4. Is the above sentence wrong and should I have written the above as below?

He looks around the desolate street.

Mostly I'm sure my first sentence is correct, but I'm little confused.

share|improve this question
    
Desolated is the past participle of the verb desolate, but you are right here it is used as an adjective. And you are right again when you say only verbs can have tenses. –  Laure Mar 4 at 14:45
    
Participial adjective. –  snailplane Jun 13 at 17:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Only verb can be in past tense or even adjective can be in past tense?

Correct.

In the above sentence "desolated" is a verb or an adjective? My guess is it's an adjective here.

Desolated is certainly an adjective in your sentence.

Is "desolated" a past participle of the verb "desolate"?

Yes it is. And as so many past participles, it can be used as an adjective. The street could also have been deserted, darkened, emptied, forgotten or populated. All past participles that can be used in this sentence as adjectives.

Is the above sentence wrong and should I have written the above as below?

No, it is just fine as you wrote it.

However, desolate on its own, can also be used as an adjective. And this is where the confusion starts.

There seems to be a nuance difference between desolate and desolated.

If you use desolated, you indicate that the state of the street is the effect of it having been desolated - or you could say ruined.

If you use desolate, it feels more as if you describe an overall attribute of the street, that might be comparable to it having been desolated, even if it has always been like that - a more apt synonym could be bleak in that case.

share|improve this answer
  1. Only a verb. Here is a nice explanation of using participles as adjectives: http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu/reading-writing/on-line/particip.html
  2. Your guess is correct. :)
  3. Yes, it is. See the explanation on the link I provided.
  4. Actually, neither sentence is wrong. Using "desolated" carries an implication that something happened in the past to cause the desolation, using "desolate" simply communicates the fact of desolation.
share|improve this answer

He looks around the desolate street.

Desolate is an adjective that means the street is empty. "He" is standing alone in the street.

He looks around the desolated street.

In this sentence desolated is the past participle of the verb desolate and it is used as an adjective.
It means that the street is now desolate but there has been a change since he started considering that street. At some time in the past there were people standing there with him but now they have abandoned the street and, consequently, "he" is now alone.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.