Overwhelmed Overwhelming


China Chinese
I am confused with the usages of present participle and past participle used as adjectives. The following two
sentences are from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary online.
a. She felt an overwhelming need to tell someone about what had happened.
b. She looked at him with a surprised expression on her face.

Can we say 'She felt an overwhelmed need to tell ...'? Why?

Thank you for your help.
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    No, you can't say "overwhelmed need to tell". The issue is that she presently/currently feels a need that is presently/currently overwhelming her. "Overwhelmed" is past tense. The past tense doesn't work with her current/ongoing feeling of need.

    "Overwhelming need" describes her emotion. "Overwhelmed need" describes "need" - in other words, the need is overwhelmed.
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