What is present and past participle?

I get confused by these sentences for example:

  • I saw the pen keeping on the table.
  • I saw the pen kept on the table.

But at the moment the pen is on the table, so which of the sentences above are correct?

  • The first sentence is incorrect because you need a modal verb to form a progressive clause I saw the pen was keeping on the table Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 9:31
  • What is modal verb and how to use could you share some more details Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 11:46
  • if you couldn't understand it. Try do research :) Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 12:30
  • Ok so when we say ● there is a book keeping on the table. instead of that. ●we have to say there is a book is keeping on the table means the book is on the table at the moment while speaking or we can say both of sentance above Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:48
  • 178049's suggestion is perhaps misleading, because it contains an implied that (I saw [that] the pen was keeping) and because no one would say that anyway. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


These participles are not only present and past, they are also active and passive respectively. If you keep a pen, the pen is kept. To apply an active participle (keeping) to the pen is to suggest that the pen is there by its own choice.

Are you using keep here as a synonym of stay, remain? It does mean that in a few idiomatic usages (especially "keep quiet" and "keep [continue] doing"), but not in others, at least in General American dialect; I would not say that my cat keeps on his favorite chair.

Added much later: Though that would explain why some people mis-hear kipping as keeping in the sentence The Norwegian Blue prefers kipping on its back.

  • This is exactly right. The first is wrong only because the pen cannot keep on the table (in standard English, anyway). But it can be kept there by the family or whoever. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 2:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .