Participles are verb forms or verbals that end in -ing or -ed, -en, or -d and function as a different part of speech, usually as an adjective but sometimes as an adverb. There are two kinds of participles: present participles and past participles.
Present participles end in -ing. For example, read the following sentences:
Present participles can be tricky because they are easily confused with gerunds. However, you can use the “it” trick you learned in the section on gerunds to clear up any confusion in a sentence, such as the one that follows from the example above:
This sentence makes no sense whatsoever, so you know giggling is a participle and not a gerund in this sentence.
Past participles end in -ed, -en, or -d as shown in the following sentence:
The participle crushed acts as an adjective to
The participle proven acts as an adjective to modify skills.
Just as gerunds can become gerund phrases, participles can become participial phrases. A participial phrase begins with the participle and is followed by other modifiers or objects.
Disappointed is not a verb here. The phrase describes (modifies) the football team; the verb is the word “rushed.”
Compare that sentence to this one:
In this sentence, both disappointed and rushed act as verbs.
The sentences are essentially the same, but the sentence with the participle is more concise because the focus is the second verb, rushed, and not both disappointed and rushed.
Click on the correct answer to indicate whether the word or phrase in bold is a participle.
When you are revising your essay and rewriting sentences so that they include verbals, specifically participial phrases, be careful to avoid dangling participles. I know you are saying, “What is a dangling participle?”
Dangling participles are adjectival participles that aren’t modifying a subject. They just hang there and consequently change the meaning of your sentence. This error happens often when a sentence begins with a participial phrase.
The following is an example of a dangling participle:
Wait, what was that? Her phone rang while it was running out the door? The subject of the sentence is her phone. Therefore, the phrase running out the door modifies her phone. What the writer intended to say was this:
The problem is this: Beginning a sentence with a participial phrase is a good way to add sentence variety and interest to your writing. However, you have to be absolutely certain that the phrase is modifying a subject. As you edit each sentence that begins with a participle, verify that the subject of the sentence is the noun closest to the participle.
Another common error you can make when beginning a sentence with a participle is that the participle may actually be modifying a noun, but not the correct noun. This is called a “misplaced modifier.” An example follows.
This sentence, as written, means that the vegetables are dripping with melted cheese. What I want to say is that the pizza is dripping with melted cheese. In this sentence, the modifier dripping with cheese is misplaced. You can rewrite the sentence in a couple of different ways as follows:
As you edit, take a second look at sentences that begin with participles. Make sure to identify the subject and the object of the sentence and determine whether the participle is modifying what you intended it to modify.
Decide whether each sentence is correctly written or not by clicking on Correct or Incorrect for each question below.
1. Breaking against the sand, the jellyfish floated in the surf.
2. Leaking like a sieve, the sailors thought their ship would surely sink before they reached port.
3. She sat sullenly in her chair, thinking about the test.
4. The intruder was tall with a tattoo weighing two hundred pounds.
5. Sprinting across the lot, Jimmy slipped and fell down.