The tree is/was fallen on my car.

In the above example, is word "fallen" used as a verb or an adjective?

If I use "fallen" as adjective, then it means I am showing someone a fallen tree which is lying on my car. Using as adjective to show status.

If I use "fallen" as a verb, then it means I am telling the event of fallen tree. Using fallen as intransitive verb.


People are/were gathered for meeting

In my second example, how I can identify whether "gathered" is used as an adjective or a intransitive verb?

  • I can see that fallen in that context being used as a verb but I fail to see how it is used as an adjective. Gathered as defined by multiple dictionaries, have a verb and noun form BUT not an adjective form. I suppose it must have to be used as an intransitive verb from.
    – CipherBot
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 12:48
  • Please make your sentences distinctive from the text.
    – Ahmad
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


Past participle can be (and often is) used as an adjective. Regular verbs (and some irregular ones) have the forms of Past Tense and Past Participle that look the same, only the context (surrounding parts of speech, clauses) can help determine which one it is, and if it's the Past Tense form, it's a verb, if it's a Past Participle, it is either part of Perfect Tense (Present or Past) or an adjective.

The rule of thumb is that with the verb "be" you're likely to see an adjective (or a Past Participle in that role).

The presence of the 'have' auxiliary verb should suggest Perfect Tense:

Remember that old elm? You can see it fallen now. -- an adjective
Remember that old elm? You can see it has fallen now. -- a verb

In the first sentence "fallen" is an adjective that defines 'it' (the object of the verb 'see'). In the second sentence is deceptively similar to the first, but the structure is different. The "it has fallen now" is a subordinate clause with a hidden "that" in front of it:

You can see {that} it has fallen now.

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