Past Participle (Cheater's) Memory


Students play “memory” and match the root form of verbs with the past participles. Use this when teaching the passive voice or the present perfect.

Materials Needed

  • a set of cards with the root forms of verbs – print on colored paper. One per lunch-group
  • a set of cards with the past participles – on the backside of these, print the endings of the participles. Print all of this on a color different from the first set of cards. One per lunch group



This is basically a variation on the card game “memory” or 神経衰弱 (shinkei-suijaku). Students try to match the root forms of verbs with their past participles. To make the game easier, and more educational, we print the endings of the past participles on the back of the past participle cards. This helps students memorize which verbs are irregular, and which verbs are not, and helps them categorize irregular verbs by pattern (e.g. eaten, broken, spoken all end with ~en, taught and caught both end with ~aught, etc.)


Print up the cards with the root forms of the verbs on colored paper; for this explanation, let's use red. Print up the past participle cards on a different color; let's say blue. On the back of the past participle cards, print the “endings” cards.


Break the students into lunch groups, and give each group a deck of root verb cards, and a deck of past participles. Have them lay the cards out on their desks. The past participle cards should be laid out with the participles face down, and the endings face up. The students all take turns drawing cards. A student first turns over a red verb root card of his choice, and reads the word aloud. The student then looks at the face-up endings on the participle cards, and uses them as hints to decide which blue participle card to turn over. If the root and particle cards that the student turned over match, he gets to keep them, and gets to take another turn. If the cards do not match, then the next student gets to take a turn. The student with the most pairs of cards at the end of the game wins.


These cards could also be used to assign students words to write on the board for "the fly swatter game" (

For more information on "Memory" see the wikipedia article:


You may wish to cut the number of cards used in the game by about 10. With the supplied 30 cards, the activity took far too long (though the students did have fun).