Grammar Basics: Participles

Participles form an essential part of English grammar.
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What is Participle?
A participle is a word formed from a verb which can be used as an adjective. In other words, it is a verbal adjective. The two types of participles are the present participle (ending ing) and the past participle (usually ending -ed, -d, -t, -en, or-n).
Some Participles being used as Adjectives:
To rise
  • Past Participle: The risen sun
  • Present Participle: The rising sun
To Boil
  • Past Participle: The boiled water
  • Present Participle: The boiling water
To break
  • Past Participle: The broken news
  • Present Participle: The breaking news
To cook
  • Past Participle: The cooked ham
  • Present Participle: The cooking ham
Examples of participles phrases used as adjectives:
  • Stunned by the blow, Mukul quickly gathered his senses and searched frantically for the pepper spray. (The participle phrase ‘Stunned by the blow’ describes Mukul.)
  • The man carrying the bricks is my father. (The participle phrase ‘carrying the bricks’ describes the man.)
  • A laughing man is stronger than a suffering man. (use of participles in present tense)
  • In some cases, the participle is understood. Examples:
  • Breakfast over, we went out for a walk. (‘Breakfast having been over’ is understood here.)
  • Sword in hand, he rushed on the jailor. (‘Sword being in hand’ is understood here.)
Errors in the use of participles:
Since the participle is a verbal adjective, it must be attached with some noun or pronoun. So, it must always have a ‘subject of reference’. In case, it is left without a proper subject of reference, it results in a dangling participle.
Dangling Participle: One of the most common grammatical mistakes is that of dangling participles. In this case, the participle doesn’t agree with the subject.
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Example: While walking down the road, a tree caught Jai’s attention.
In this statement, the subject of the sentence is "a tree," but it is not the tree that is doing the walking, therefore the participle "walking" is dangling.
The correct sentence will be:
While walking down the road, Jai noticed a tree.
A tree caught Jai’s attention as he walked down the road.
Hence, verbs can play the role of adjectives in the form of participles.
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