Grammar: Participle

Posted December 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Writing

Participles are generally defined as working as adjectives, as a single word or as part of a participial phrase both before or after the noun.

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.

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Participle
Credit to: Grammar Monster; English Page
Definition: An attributive or predicate adjective OR a compound verb formed from a simple verb.

Verbal ending in -ing, -ed, or the irregular equivalent for a verb. Other verbals include gerunds and infinitives. Of course, that’s not including the deverbal or verbal nouns, which are their own separate beastie.

Rule: Used as an adjective or adverb to modify nouns, noun phrases, or pronouns in a present or past tense.

POST CONTENTS:
Differences Between Participles, Gerunds, and Infinitives
Converting a Verb to a Participle
Tenses

Phrases:

Dangling participle

A.k.a., participial adjective, verbal adjective

Participle vs Gerund vs Infinitive:
The main problem is that participles and gerunds look alike, especially in their -ing form. It’s all the fault of those 18th century grammarians who finally settled down to make sense of the English language. You can see how much success they had, lol. Seriously, though they did do a great job with what they had at the time.

Latin was the classic language at the time, and this is where those linguists started. Gerunds and participles were treated differently in Latin, which is why they’re thought of as different now. Today’s grammarians are beginning to refer to them as gerund-participles. It’ll take awhile for this concept to catch on, so it’s important that writers today know what the current differences are. I know…it’s a pain.

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The difference is that:
Verb What It Does Examples
Gerund Functions as a noun

Always has an -ing ending

Hiking is a favorite sport in Colorado.

After running into Helen, George knew it meant a three-hour lunch.

Infinitive Base form of a verb, to ___, that functions as an adjective, adverb, or noun She had a gift to give me.

She wanted to buy the hat.

Jamie likes to hike.

Participle

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Functions as an adjective

Depending on tense, it may have an -ing or -ed [+] ending

He had hiked to Pike’s Peak.

Running into Helen meant a three-hour lunch.

Jamie’s snoring was enough to keep Marge awake all night.

Converting a Verb to a Participle
Verb… …as an Adjective …as a Compound Verb …as a Noun
awake awoken from a deep sleep was awoken
be watched clock has been eating
bend unbent sapling was unbent
breed well-bred horse has been breeding good breeding
burn burned toast had been burnt
go is going
is gone
work working woman
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the present participle
  2. Orange indicates the auxiliary verb
  3. Blue indicates the past participle
A List of Some of the Irregular (Present and Past) Participle Endings
arose
awaken
awoke
backslid
bade
been
bent
bitten
bound
bred
broken
brought
built
burnt
caught
crept
dealt
did
done
dove
drew
driven
drunk
dug
dwelt
fed
fell
fled
foretold
forgave
forsook
found
froze
got
ground
handwrote
heard
hid
hung
inlaid
interwove
jerry-built
kept
knelt
known
knew
laid
lay
learnt
led
leapt
lost
made
mislaid
overbred
overheard
paid
partook
ran
risen
rose
rung
said
sat
seen
shone
shrank
shrunk
slept
sold
spent
sung
swollen
swum
taught
told
took
trod
unbent
unbound
undersold
unslung
unwound
was
wept
were
withstood
won
wore
written
wrote
Tenses
Present Participle Definition: A verb that functions as an adjective and uses an -ing ending, usually using active voice.
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Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the modified noun
  2. Green indicates the present participle that describes the noun

I just found the most glorious new walking stick.

Has anyone shut up that damned barking dog next door!

“God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” –Voltaire

Get a load of the laughing girl.

A laughing man is stronger than a suffering man. – Gustave Flaubert

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. – Mark Twain

The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams. – Tupac Shakur

Past Participle Definition: A verb that functions as an adjective and uses an -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, or -ne as in the words asked, eaten, saved, dealt, seen, and gone. It may use active or passive voice.

The Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus has a useful list of past participles while the University of Michigan has a list of irregular verbs in present, past, and participle form.

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Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the modified noun
  2. Green indicates the past participle that describes the noun

He had his hair cut.

The story, swamped as it was with clichés, was hopelessly unready for publication.

The windows were washed yesterday.

A swollen eye is God’s way of telling you to improve your interpersonal skills.

Do not waste time staring at a closed door.

I like children…if they’re properly cooked. – W.C. Fields

Participial Phrase
Definition: A phrase that contains a participle and related modifiers and complements and is used as an adjective (Capital Community College Foundation’s Guide to Grammar and Writing)
Legend:

  1. Yellow indicates the subject
  2. Green indicates the participial phrase that describes the subject

The dinghy, anchored on the shoals, was breaking apart as the seas swamped it.

Floating in the pool, I marveled at the clouds.

Biting his victim, the vampire felt a momentary thrill.

Beating you over the head with examples, I hope to make you understand participial phrases.

Absolute Participial Phrase Definition: Grammatically independent from the sentence, an absolute participial phrase adds extra or optional meaning to the sentence.

A.k.a., nominative absolutes, absolute phrases, and absolutes.

Return to top Absolute Participial Phrase Simple Sentence
See how dull the sentence is without the extra meaning brought by the absolute participial phrase.

Legend:

  1. Green indicates the participial phrase
With the boxes removed, the truck was returned. The truck was returned.
The bar having opened, we proceeded inside. We proceeded inside.
The alternative proposal looked better because the original plan had limitations. The alternative proposal looked better.
Given the limits of this plan, the alternative proposal seems more practical. The alternative proposal seems more practical.
Turning now to sales, there are very optimistic signs. There are very optimistic signs.
Dangling Participle
Definition: Part of a participial phrase but not placed near the subject, making it difficult to identify (C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive).

Rule: Pay attention to who/what is performing the action as well as the sequence of events in your sentences.

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The Sentence(s) What’s Wrong
WRONG:
While writing the memo, the phone rang.
The phone is writing the memo.

RIGHT:
While I was writing the memo, the phone rang.

WRONG:
Having been told she was always late, an alarm clock was the solution.
The clock was told it was late, and it’s a girl clock!

RIGHT:
She decided an alarm clock was the solution having been told she was always late.

WRONG:
When writing a sentence, the pen slipped.
The pen is writing the sentence.

RIGHT:

  1. The pen slipped when I was writing a sentence.
  2. As I was writing the sentence, the pen slipped.
WRONG
While racing up the hill, my tears gushed out.
The tears are racing up the hill.

RIGHT:

  1. While I was racing up the hill, my tears gushed out.
  2. My tears gushed out as I raced up the hill.
WRONG:
Driving down the street, the mansion came into view.
The mansion is driving.

RIGHT:
The mansion came into view as I was driving down the street.


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