In the phrase below...

How to improve your spoken English

is the word "spoken" an adjective? Can the word "spoken" usually take the form of an adjective? I see this construction very often, but when I looked it up in the Cambridge dictionary I got that it is just a verb.

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    Your cited text isn't a question - it's a Nominal Relative Clause, which could be incorporated into a question as, for example, "Do you know how to improve your spoken English?" Sep 10, 2014 at 16:03

2 Answers 2


Yes, this spoken is an adjective.

In my opinion, Macmillan Dictionary is friendlier to learners; for example, you can look up the word spoken on their website, and you will find that it's clearly defined as adjective, with the definition: "spoken language is things that people say, not things that they write".

For more information related to using -ed and -ing verb forms as adjectives, I'd like to recommend reading Participial Adjectives @ The Internet Grammar of English.


Almost any past participle can be used as an adjective. The idea of the Latin term participle is that a participle is a verb form that can be used as a verb form or an adjective. "Participle means having the character of two word classes. Examples: a beaten dog, a frozen lake, a broken window, a burst tyre/tire (AmE). A good survey as to participles is given in grammar-monster.com - What are participles?


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