Participial Phrase

Participial Phrase :

Since the participle has adjective properties, its constructions are in the main like those of adjectives.

A participle is said to belong to the substantive which it describes or limits.

1. Rupert, missing his companion, stepped to the door. [The present participle missing belongs to the subject Rupert.]

2. Rising, she opened the window. [Rising belongs to she.]

3. I heard the rain falling. [Falling belongs to the object rain.]

4. Tom’s arm, broken by the blow, hung useless. [The past participle broken belongs to the subject arm.]

5. Having climbed the hill with great difficulty, I stopped to rest. [The perfect participle having climbed belongs to the subject I.]

A participle should not be used without some substantive to which it may belong.

Right : Entering the room, we saw a strange sight. [The participle entering belongs to the pronoun we.]

Wrong : Entering the room, a strange sight was seen. [Since there is no substantive to which entering can belong, it has no construction.]

Apparent exceptions are concerning, considering, pending, generally speaking, etc. The first three may be classed as prepositions, the last as an independent participle.

1. We fought every day, and, generally speaking, twice every day. - De Quincey.

Note : The rule does not apply to such phrases as on entering, after investigating, etc., in which the words in ING are not participles, but verbal nouns. Thus the following sentences are grammatical…..

2. On entering the room, a strange sight appeared.

3. After investigating the subject, the plan was adopted.

Such expressions, however, should be used with caution, since they are sometimes awkward or ambiguous.

A participle may be modified by an adverb, an adverbial phrase or an adverbial clause.

1. Smiling brightly, she extended her hand. [Adverb.]

2. He leaped forward, shrieking with all his might. [Adverbial phrase.]

3. Laughing until he cried, he sank into a chair. [Adverbial clause.]

A participle may take an object if its meaning allows.

1. I found the old man mending his net.

2. Lifting the box, he moved toward the door.

3. Giving me a friendly nod, he passed on. [Here nod is the direct object of giving, and me is the indirect object.]

The participle with its modifiers and such other words as are attached to it is sometimes called a
participial phrase .

A participle may be used as a pure adjective.

1. A grinning boy confronted me.
2. A battered hat hung on the peg.
3. Kate was playing with a broken doll.
4. We could hear a rushing stream.
5. Willing hands make light work.
6. He was struck by a spent ball.

The past participle is often used as a
predicate adjective expressing state or condition.

This construction is easily confused with the
passive of verbs . The distinction may be seen in the following examples.

1. The rain began to fall heavily and every time a gust of wind struck us we were drenched by it.

2. When the rain at last ceased, we were drenched [that is, very wet].

In the first sentence,
were drenched is the past passive of the verb drench (compare the active “every time a gust of wind struck us, it drenched us"). In the second, the participle drenched expresses mere condition and is therefore a predicate adjective. The distinction, however, is not always sharp and in cases of doubt the phrase may be taken together as a passive verb.

Note : The real test is the following. Whenever a person or thing is distinctly present to the mind as the doer of the action, we have a passive verb-phrase. Whenever, on the other hand, the participle merely describes condition with no thought of its being the result of an antecedent act, the construction is that of a predicate adjective.

Participial Phrase :

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