In researching a question on another site, I was trying to find out if the following sentence was using a compound verb:

  • You are prepared to graduate.

My assumption had been that it was, but another poster stated that "prepared" was being used as an adjective. I found that there is a present progressive tense that uses "to be" and a present participle:

  • You are preparing to graduate.

I have not been able to find a matching tense that uses the past participle, so I am assuming the poster is correct.

My inner word nerd is puzzled at this imbalance. Would someone please explain?

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    Passive constructions use be with a past participle. In this particular example, though, I would agree that prepared is a regular predicative adjective rather than a past participle used in a passive construction. But the grey area between the two is considerable. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 17:58
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    The test for a real Passive Construction is whether you can have an agent by-phrase. He was prepared for the ritual by his guru is a Passive transform of His guru prepared him for the ritual. Can you put by your college before to graduate and still keep the same sense in You are prepared to graduate? I couldn't; so this isn't a Passive, at least not in my idiolect. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 18:17
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    BTW, the the term is Construction, not "Tense". English only has Present Tense and Past Tense; everything else is a construction. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 18:19
  • @JohnLawler Oh, okay. Thank you for the correction. Sigh, I'm going to have to learn to not say "future tense"? That is going to be rough!
    – RichF
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 18:22
  • Will is just another modal auxiliary verb, and they all refer to the future. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


You are prepared- here "prepared" is an adjective meaning you fullfilled all necessary conditions to graduate. You are preparing - this is the present continuous meaning action in progress, you are making the necessary preparations but you are not ready yet.

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