I want to describe an object that was broken by a sudden, large force. The verb that expresses what happened to the object is "rend". But I would like to use an adjective to describe the object in this broken state.

According to a CliffsNotes page, one can form the adjective from the verb's past participle. I looked up the conjugations and that past participle would be "rent".

Is "rent" the appropriate adjective for "rend"? If not, is it something like "rended"?

My sentence would read something like: Straw lay scattered around the rent barn.

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    Yup that's how it works. I'd advise you, however, to stick to professionally-compiled dictionaries in future. – Arm the good guys in America Nov 10 '17 at 20:45
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    Grammatically correct does not always mean easily understood. Your audience might appreciate a rewording. – Davo Nov 10 '17 at 20:48
  • Sunder torn barn ;) – mplungjan Nov 10 '17 at 21:45
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    I think you'll find something that works better if you look at synonyms of rend and then look at their adjectival forms, like torn or broken or ruptured (and synonyms thereof). – 1006a Nov 10 '17 at 21:47
  • Yes, I can see how "rent barn" is an odd phrase to read, even though it's grammatically correct. I'll reword the sentence, but it's good to know this for the future. For a long time, I was under the impression that "wrent" was the word to use. "Wrent barn", at least to my mind, is easier to understand than "rent barn", but I don't think it's actually a word. Maybe I picked it up colloquially? – Kyle Tolle Nov 10 '17 at 21:58

Welcome to the wonderful world of English homophones. The answer to your question is "rent" or (less often) "rended," but your example is problematic because the English word "rent" is used in many more common ways.

"The rent barn" will not be understood by most English speakers in the way you intend, because a) rend is an uncommon verb and its past participle is more uncommon still, b) the word "rent" is often used as a the first word in compound nouns like "rent check" (or cheque) or "rent control," and c) the word rent is most often used as a verb, as in "to rent a barn."

To my ear, "the rent barn" is the barn that you put out for rent.

Perhaps this is the reason that "rended" is listed in most dictionaries as a secondary option for the past tense. It still has a little bit of an archaic or poetic flavor to it.

Rended barn and scattered straw upon the field lay.

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  • Nice and thorough description of why, at least in this case, the adjective "rent" would lead to confusion. I would interpret "the rent barn" in the same way you mentioned. You're right that "rended barn" conveys the intended sentiment better. I saw "rended" under historical examples on dictionary.com but further searching didn't give me much confidence this was a modern phrase. – Kyle Tolle Nov 10 '17 at 22:09

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