English Participle

English ParticiplePresent, past and perfect participles in various phrases and functions. When participles are not –ing forms.

Participle is a verbal adjective determining nouns/pronouns. Participle may be present, past or perfect.

Present Participle (1)

Present participles end in –ing.

jumping, burning, speaking

The wailing cats disturbed the neighbors.

Present participles are active or passive (being + V3).

asking, being asked

Past Participle (2)

Past participles are 3rd verb forms ending in –ed with regular verbs or in -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, -ne with irregular verbs to be remembered.

burnt, spoken

Annoyed, the customer stalked out of the store.

With transitive verbs past participles are passive. With terminative verbs they are perfective in meaning. With durative verbs they are non-perfective.

When asked, he didn’t know what to say.

She’s a clever pleasant girl called Jane.

With non-transitive verbs (especially fall, wither, vanish, return, grow) past participles are active in meaning.

He’s a retired soldier.

Perfect Participle

having + past participle

Having failed in the 1st attempt, he made no further ones.

Having lost my certificate, I applied for its copy.

Having gained the truth, he remained calm.

Participial Phrases

Participial phrases are participles determined by adverbs/adverbials. They come before/after their determined nouns/pronouns and have no commas only at sentence ends right after their determined words.

Walking carefully, I avoided the spilled juice.

Her mom, bothered by the mess, cleaned it up.

Participle Functions

  • attribute

Her smiling face bent over my little bed.

The examined papers didn’t throw light upon the mystery.

  • predicative

The dress was all torn.

  • in time/cause/manner modifiers (participial phrases with while, when, as if/though, if)

Stopping at the gate, she gave a loud cry.

While looking at me, he continued to rustle his papers.

Dangling Participle

Participles are dangling when their subjects don’t agree with sentence subjects.

Rushing to finish the paper, Bob’s printer broke. (incorrect)

While Bob was rushing to finish the paper, his printer broke.

The subject is Bob’s printer, but the printer isn’t doing the rushing.

One way to tell if a participle is dangling is to put its clause right after a sentence subject.

Bob’s printer, rushing to finish the paper, broke. (incorrect)

To prevent confusion, participial phrases must be closer to their determined and clearly stated nouns/pronouns.

Carrying a heavy pile of books, his foot caught on a step. (incorrect)

Carrying a heavy pile of books, he caught his foot on a step.