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Participles in the English language
Chapter I. Participles and their types in english language
1.1. The concept of participle and its usage
1.2. Types of participles and their functions
Chapter II. Periodical changes of participles
2.1. Old English participles
2.2. Middle English participles
2.3. Modern English participles
After the Independence was declared the Republic of Uzbekistan was faced
with the necessity of creating new legislation corresponding with new realities,
with the conditions of Independence handled with this task, there have been
adopted new Laws and new Resolutions. The president of our Republic paid
attention on learning foreign language.
For the first time in the history of our country, there adopted “The Law of
learning foreign languages ” and “The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the
National Program of Personnel Training System”. At present great importance is
involved to the study and teaching of foreign languages. Moreover, On December
10, 2012 President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov signed a decree
“on measures to further improve foreign language learning system”. It is noted
that in the framework of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “on education”
and the National Program for Training in the country a comprehensive foreign
languages’ teaching system, aimed at creating harmoniously developed, highly
educated, modern thinking young generation, further integration of the country to
the world community, has been created. Currently, the University of World
Languages has been one of the resources that bring up such harmonious youth for
the community development. Making learning a language and culture effectively
literature can help to understand all the background of a country in many ways 1.
In one of his speeches Islam Karimov pointed: “Education and upbringing,
while being the product of consciousness, are the factors which define the level
of consciousness and development. Without improving the system of education
and upbringing one cannot alter the consciousness, and by not altering the
consciousness, and consequently the mind, it would be impossible to achieve
our highest goal-to build a free and prosperous society”.2
I.A.Karimov. Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan №1875.Tashkentin her , December 10,2012
The theme “Participles in English language”.
The actuality of the theme: Participles is one of the important aspects of the
language. So, together with the importance, we analyse Participles in English
The aim is to look into Participles of English languageand its
First of all, to analyze the pronunciation itself;
To give information about Participles in English language;
To demonstrate of Participles in English language.
The subject of the given research involves different kind pronunciations
with an emphasis on Participles in English language.
The aim of the research: the analysis of Participles in English languageand
its elements.
The object of the work is to see the variations of the target Participles
and its types.
Structurally this course paper consists of introduction, which is the
opening view on whole work, main part with two chapters and subchapters,
which includes the general and special information about the theme, conclusion,
which summaries all the information and gives the final opinion, and
bibliography, where the names of books, works, web-sites are listed.
Introduction states the actu3ality, subject matter of the descipline,
working hypothesis, methods, theoretical and practical importance of the work.
Moreover, this part tells us brief list of the content of the work.
Main part includes two chapters in itself.
Chapter I is entitled “Participles and their types in English language”.
I.A.Karimov “ Yuksak ma’naviyat –yengilmas kuch”. Toshkent. Ma’naviyat, 2008.
In the first paragraph we discussed English language and role of
Participles in it. We have cited that English is the most widely spoken language in
the world with 400 million speakers in the British Isles, North America, Australia
and New Zealand as well as parts of Africa and Asia.
In the second paragraph we provided information Periodical changes of
participles. Periodical changes of participlesis a major variety of the English
language, used throughout Australia. Although English has no official status in
the Constitution, Australian English is the country's national and de facto official
language as it is the first language of the majority of the population.
In the first paragraph we mainly spoke of variations in Participles and
their types in English language. The major varieties of Australian English are
sociocultural rather than regional, being general, broad and cultivated Australian.
There exist a number of Australian English-based creole languages
The second paragraph deals Old, Middle and modern English participles.
Conclusion is about the result of the work.
I. Participles and their types in english language.
1.1. The concept of participle and its usage.
The participle is a non-finite form of the verb which has a verbal and an adjectival
or and adverbial character.There are two participles in English - Participle I and
Participle II, traditionally called the Present Participle and the Past Participle.A
participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun, noun
phrase, verb, or verb phrase, and plays a role similar to an adjective or adverb. It is
one of the types of nonfinite verb forms.
What Are Participles?
A participle is a word formed from a verb which can be used as an adjective.
The two types of participles are the present participle (ending ing) and the past
participle (usually ending -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n).Here are some participles being
used as adjectives:
Participle Phrases
It is really common to see participles in participle phrases. A participle
phrase also acts like an adjective. In the examples below, the participle phrases are
shaded and the participles are in bold:
The man carrying the bricks is my father.(The participle phrase carrying the
bricks describes the the man.)
She showed us a plate of scones crammed with cream.(The participle
phrase crammed with cream describes the scones.)
Whistling the same tune as always, Ted touched the front of his cap with his
forefinger as she dismounted.(The participle phrase Whistling the same tune as
always describes Ted.)
Stunned by the blow, Mike quickly gathered his senses and searched frantically for
the pepper spray.(The participle phrase Stunned by the blow describes Mike.)
Like other parts of the verb, participles can be either active (e.g. breaking) or
passive (e.g. broken). Participles are also often associated with certain verbal
aspects or tenses. The two types of participle in English are traditionally called the
present participle (forms such as writing, singing and raising) and the past
participle (forms such as written, sung and raised).
Participles have various uses in a sentence. One use of a participle is simply
as an adjective:
A broken window. A fallen tree. An interesting book.
Another use is in a phrase which serves as a shortened form of a relative
clause, as in the following phrases:
A woman wearing a red hat. A window broken by the wind.
Here the first phrase is equivalent to "a woman who was wearing a red hat".
Such participle phrases generally follow the noun they describe, just as relative
clauses do. Often a participle replaces an adverbial clause. For example:
With drawn sword, he came to the sleeping Lucretia.
In the above sentence, the participles can be interpreted as equivalent to an
adverbial clause of time, namely "after he had drawn his sword", and "when she
was sleeping". A fourth use of participles in some languages is in combination
with an auxiliary verb such as "has" or "is" to make a compound or periphrastic
verb tense which in other languages can often be expressed by a single word:
He had drawn his sword. She was sleeping .
“A verb phrase based on a participle is called a participle phrase or
participial phrase (participial is an adjective derived from participle). For example,
wearing a hat and broken by the wind are participial phrases based respectively on
.Lexicalization and language change. Cambridge.
an English present participle and past participle. Since these phrases are equivalent
to a clause, they may also be called a participle clause or participial clause.
Participial clauses generally do not have an expressed grammatical subject; but
occasionally a participial clause does include a subject, as in the English
nominative absolute construction. The king having died, ... .”
Types of participle
Participles are often identified with a particular tense, as with the English
present participle and past participle (see under § Modern English below).
However, this is often a matter of contention; present participles are not necessarily
associated with the expression of present time, or past participles necessarily with
past time. Participles may also be identified with a particular voice: active or
passive. In English the present participle is essentially an active participle, while
the past participle has both active and passive uses. The following examples
illustrate this:
I saw John eating his dinner. (Here eating is an active present participle)
The bus has gone. (Here gone is an active past participle)
The window was broken with a rock. (Here broken is a passive past participle)
A distinction is also sometimes made between adjectival participles and
adverbial participles. An adverbial participle (or a participial phrase/clause based
on such a participle) plays the role of an adverbial (adverb phrase) in the sentence
in which it appears, whereas an adjectival participle (or a participial phrase/clause
based on one) plays the role of an adjective phrase.
Some descriptive grammars treat adverbial and adjectival participles as
distinct lexical categories, while others include them both in a single category of
participles. Sometimes different names are used; adverbial participles in certain
languages may be called converbs, gerunds, or gerundivesor transgressives.
Sometimes adjectival participles come to be used as pure adjectives, without any
verbal characteristics (deverbal adjectives). They then no longer take objects or
other modifiers typical of verbs, possibly taking instead modifiers that are typical
of adjectives, such as the English word very. The difference is illustrated by the
following examples:
The subject interesting him at the moment is Greek history.
Greek history is a very interesting subject.
“In the first sentence interesting is used as a true participle; it acts as a verb,
taking the object him, and forming the participial phrase interesting him at the
moment, which then serves as an adjective phrase modifying the noun subject.
However, in the second sentence interesting has become a pure adjective; it stands
in an adjective's typical position before the noun, it can no longer take an object,
and it could be accompanied by typical adjective modifiers such as very or quite
(or in this case the prefix un-). Similar examples are "interested people", "a
frightened rabbit", "fallen leaves", "meat-eating animals".”
Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam.
1.2. Types of participles and their functions.
Participles come in two varieties: past and present. They are two of the five
forms or principal parts that every verb has. Look at the charts below.
On the other hand, you can see that past participles do not have a consistent
ending. The past participles of all regular verbs end in ed; the past participles of
irregular verbs, however, vary considerably. If you look at bring and sing, for
example, you'll see that their past participles—brought and sung—do not follow
the same pattern even though both verbs have ing as the last three letters. Consult a
dictionary whenever you are unsure of a verb's past participle form. Know the
functions of participles. Participles have three functions in sentences. They can be
components of multipart verbs, or they can function as adjectives or nouns. Parti
cipl es i n Multipart Ver bs A verb can have as many as four parts. When you form
multipart verbs, you use a combination of auxiliary verbs and participles. Look at
the examples below: Our pet alligator ate Mrs. Olsen's poodle. Ate = simple past
tense. With a broom, Mrs. Olsen was beating our alligator over the head in an
attempt to retrieve her poodle. Was = auxiliary verb; beating = present participle.
Our pet alligator has been stalking neighborhood pets because my brother Billy
forgets to feed the poor reptile. Has = auxiliary verb; been = past participle;
stalking = present participle. Our pet alligator should have been eating Gator
Chow, crunchy nuggets that Billy leaves for him in a bowl. Should, have =
auxiliary verbs; been = past participle; eating = present participle. Parti cipl es as
Adje cti ves Past and present participles often function as adjectives that describe
nouns. Here are some examples: The crying baby drew a long breath and sucked in
a spider crouching in the corner of the crib. Which baby? The crying baby. Which
spider? The one that was crouching in the corner. The mangled pair of sunglasses,
bruised face, broken arm, and bleeding knees meant Genette had taken another
spill on her mountain bike. Which pair of sunglasses? The mangled pair. Which
face? The bruised one. Which arm? The broken one. Which knees? The bleeding
ones. Parti cipl es as Nouns Present participles can function as nouns—the
subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and subject
complements in sentences. Whenever a present participle functions as a noun, you
call it a gerund. Take a look at these examples: Sneezing exhausts Steve, who
requires eight tissues and twenty-seven Gesundheits before he is done. Sneezing =
the subject of the verb exhausts. Valerie hates cooking because scraping burnt
gook out of pans always undermines her enjoyment of the food. Cooking = the
direct object of the verb hates. We gave bungee jumping a chance. Bungee
jumping = indirect object of the verb gave. Joelle bit her tongue instead of
criticizing her prom date's powder blue tuxedo. Criticizing = object of the
preposition instead of. Omar's least favorite sport is water-skiing because a bad
spill once caused him to lose his swim trunks. Water-skiing = the subject
complement of the verb is.
Present Participles
Present participles end in -ing. Examples:boiling water, caring nature,
deserving recipient. Some more examples of present participles (shaded):
A laughing man is stronger than a suffering man.
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.
The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams.
Present participles are not just used as adjectives. They are also used to
form verb tenses. Here are the verb tenses (present participles shaded):
The verbal characteristics of the Participle I are as follows:
Participle I of transitive verbs can take a direct object. Opening the window,
he noticed a stranger in the garden.Participle I and Participle II can be modified by
an adverb. The street was full of people talking and laughing noisily. Deeply
impressed she couldn't help crying.Participle 1 has tense distinctions and participle
I of transitive verbshas also voice distinctions.
Active and Passive
Indefinite Perfect 6
writing - being written
having written -
having been written
“Tense distinctions of Participle I are not absolute but relative. The Non-
perfect (Indefinite) forms of the Participle (Active and Passive) show that the
action is simultaneous with the action denoted by the finite form of the verb in the
sentence. Seeing that I was late I hurried.Sometimes Participle I Indefinite denotes
an action referring to noparticular time.”
They went out into the road leading to the village.
Participle I Perfect (Active and Passive) indicates that the action precedes
the action expressed by the finite verb in the sentence.
Having slept for two hours he felt rested.
Having been warned about the bandits, he left his valuables at home.
Participle II has no tense distinctions; it has only one form which expresses
either that the action of the Participle precedes the action of the finite form of the
verb, or that it is simultaneous to the action. He observed a folded copy of "The
Times". The girl invited by his parents was pretty.
Croft, William. 1991. Syntactic categories and grammatical relations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Adjectival characteristics of the Participle.
Like adjectives the Participle is related to a noun in the sentence as an
A smiling woman of about forty entered the room.
Greatly excited, the children followed her into the garden.
Adverbial characteristics of the Participle
The adverbial characteristics of the Participle are manifested in its syntactic
function of an adverbial modifier:
While travelling around the country we visited many interesting places.
When left alone, she spends her time at her writing table.
The Functions of Participle I in the Sentence.
It can be:
an attribute
The student answering the question is the best in his group.
"действительноеIIричастиенастоящеговремени".In the function of an attribute
Participle I can be in pre-position and in post-position, i.e. it can precede the noun
it modifies and follow it.
I saw a smiling child.
It was a nice room overlooking a garden.
Participle I Indefinite Passive is very seldom used as an attribute. Participle I
Perfect (Active and Passive) is not used as an attribute!Participle I in the function
of an attribute cannot express priority; only an attributive clause is used.
The boy who broke the window has left.
I've just talked to the students who came back from London yesterday.
as adverbial modifier (corresponds to дееIIричастие)
All forms are used here.
a) of time Approaching home I saw him. Having finished his work he left
With some verbs of sense perception (to see, to hear), motion (to enter, to
come, to arrive, to turn, to leave) and some terminative verbs (to put(on), to take
(off), to open, to close, to seize, to grasp) Participle I Indefinite (not Perfect) is
used even when priority is meant.
Hearing a noise in the yard, I looked out of the window.
Entering the room that evening Mary found a letter from her son.
Taking off our shoes, we tiptoed into the nursery.
The Perfect Participle of the same verbs is used when there is an interval of
time between the two actions.
Having failed twice, he didn't want to try again.
Having seen the girl long ago, I didn't recognize her.
It is also used when the first action covered a period of time.
Not having seen her for a long time I didn't recognize her.
Having been his own boss for such a long time, he found it hard to accept orders
for another.
If the action expressed by Participle I Indefinite Active is simultaneous with
the action expressed by the finite verb, the conjunction when or while is often
While reading the text I noticed some mistakes.
Don't forget articles when speaking English.
Note: Participle I Indefinite of the verb to be is not used as an adverbial modifier of
time. Clauses of the type "Когда он был в Лондоне,..", "Когда он был
ребенком,.." are translated "When in London...", "When a child...". It means
"When he was in London,..", "When he was a child.."
b) of cause (or reason).
Having left school at twelve he had no qualifications.
The most frequently used Non Perfect Participle I of verbs denoting mental
perception and emotions are: knowing, realizing, remembering, hoping, expecting,
fearing and also the Participle being and having.
Hoping to meet her, he left the house.
Being hungry, he rushed to the fridge.
Having plenty of time we didn't hurry.
Not knowing where to go I turned back
Note: Participle I of the verb to be {being) when used as an adverbial modifier will
always be an adverbial modifier of cause.
Being a stranger in the town, he had to ask the way - As he was a stranger in the
town, ...
c) of manner or attending circumstances. In this function Participle I
Indefinite is mostly used.
She began to walk carefully counting her steps.
He was silent, looking at his hands.
d) of unreal comparison (as if; as though)
She looked at me as though seeing me for the first time.
He spoke as if translating from a foreign language.
e) as a part of Complex Object (with verbs of physical and mental
perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to watch; to imagine, to find, to
I saw him crossing the river.
They found me working in the garden.
f) as a part of Complex Subject (mainly after verbs of sense perception)
A car was heard arriving.
He was found sleeping.
g) as a part of analytical tense from
He is writing a new novel now.
They have been waiting for us for a long time.
h) as a predicative
The story was amusing.
She remained standing.
Participle II has only one form and usually expresses an action already
completed. Participle II of transitive verbs, when it is not part of a perfect form, is
always passive in meaning: invited, broken, built, translated.Participle II can be
used in pre-position (without any accompanying words) and in post-position (with
one or more accompanying words).
He went toward the lighted window.
I rode about the country on a horse lent me by my friend.
“Participle II of intransitive verbs which denotes passing into a new stage is
always active in meaning. Mainly Participle II of intransitive verbs has no
independent function in the sentence: come, slept, smiled; they may be used to
form Perfect tenses. Only Participle II of verbs of motion or change of state can be
used independently, mostly as attributes. These are Participle II of the verbs to
arrive, to go, to rise, to fall, to fade, to wither, to vanish e.g. arrived delegations,
faded leaves, a fallen star, a retired president.Some Participle can be used either
transitively or intransitively: hidden, returned, diminished, increased: a returned
traveler, the boy hidden behind the tree, an increased population.”
The Functions of Participle II:
1) an attribute
a broken cup, books taken from the library.
2) a predicative
The door is locked.
I was greatly frightened.
The door remained locked for many years.
3) an adverbial modifier
of time (conjunctions when ,while, until)
When asked about it he refused to answer.
Declerck, Renaat. 1991a. A comprehensive descriptive grammar of English.Tokyo: Kaitakusha
She won't stop talking until interrupted.
of manner (conjunctions as, with)
I did as requested.
She sat for a while with her eyes closed
of condition (conj. if, unless)
I'll do it, if required.
She'll talk for hours unless interrupted.
of comparison (conj. as if, as though)
As if torn with inner conflict, he cried.
of concession (conj. though, although)
Her spirit, though crushed, was not broken.
4) as a part of Complex Object (after verbs of sense perception or wish)
They found the door locked. I want this work done at once.
After the verbs "to have, to get" only Participle II is use. It shows that the
action expressed by Participle II is not done by the person denoted by the subject
but is done for the benefit of the person denoted by the subject.
I want to have my hair cut.
I want to have my photo taken.
You can get a dress made here.
In interrogative and negative sentences the auxiliary verb to do is used.
Why don’t you have your hair cut?
Past Participles
Past participles have various endings, usually -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n.
Examples:broken window, painted frame, destroyed bridge. Some more examples
of past participles (shaded):
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)
(Remember, an adjective can also appear after the noun it is modifying.
See predicate adjectives.)
Past participles are also used to form verb tenses. Look at these verb tenses
(past participles shaded):
The Nominative Absolute Participial Construction.
- is a predicative complex which consists of two elements, nominal and
verbal, which are in a predicate relation. The nominal element is as noun in the
common case or a pronoun in the nominative ease.
The verbal element is
Participle I in any of its forms or Participle II.This construction is mainly used in
fiction and scientific literature.It is always marked by a comma.This construction is
always used as an adverbial modifier:
a) of time
The question being settled, they parted.
The work completed, he had three months' leave.
b)of condition
The weather being fine, we'll go for a walk.
c)of cause
The river having risen at night, the crossing was impossible.
d)of attending circumstances
She quickly went away, John silently following her.
She was smoking now, her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
The Participle I of the verb " to be" may be omitted and then we have a
construction without Participle I.
The lecture (being) over, we left the hall.
Everybody (being) at home, we set down to dinner.
He sat by fire, pipe in mouth, (a pipe being in his mouth)
The Prepositional Absolute Participle Construction
This construction differs from the nominative absolute participle
construction in that it is introduced by the preposition with.The main syntactical
function of the construction is that of an adverbial modifier of manner or attending
And still she sat there with her hands lying loosely in front of her.
What Is a Dangling Modifier
A dangling modifier is a modifier that has nothing to modify. Remember,
modifiers describe a word or make its meaning more specific. A dangling modifier
is an error caused by failing to use the word that the modifier is meant to be
describing.Examples of Dangling Modifiers. Here is an example of a dangling
Having read your letter, my cat will stay indoors until the ducklings fly off. In
this example, the missing word is we. A correct version would be:
Having read your letter, we will keep our cat indoors until the ducklings fly off.
(In this example, the modifier Having read your letter is modifying we as it
Logically, the wrong example suggests the cat read the letter.Here is another
example of a dangling modifier :
Meticulous and punctual, David's work ethic is admirable.
In this example, the missing word is David (as a standalone subject). A correct
version would be:
Meticulous and punctual, David has an admirable work ethic.
(In this example, the modifier Meticulous and punctual is modifying David as it
should, not David's work ethic.)Logically, the wrong example suggests David's
work ethic is meticulous and punctual.Here is another example of a dangling
modifier :
Having seen Blackpool Tower, the Eiffel Tower is more impressive.
In this example, the missing word is she. A correct version would be:Having seen
Blackpool Tower, she thinks the Eiffel Tower is more impressive.
(In this example, the modifier Having seen Blackpool Tower is modifying she as it
should, not the Eiffel Tower .)Logically, the wrong example suggests the Eiffel
Tower saw the Blackpool Tower.A Dangling Modifier As a Misplaced Modifier.
Sometimes, a modifier can dangle a bit. This happens when the word being
modified is present but is not next to its modifier. Look at this example:
Vicious smelly creatures with huge tusks, the ship's crew found it difficult to drive
the male walruses from the beach.
This is still a dangling modifier, but it's not dangling fully because the thing
being modified (the male walruses) is present. This is better known as a misplaced
modifier.This is a correct version:
Vicious smelly creatures with huge tusks, the male walruses were difficult for the
ship's crew to drive from the beach.
Chapter II. Periodical changes of participles.
“Participles of English language changed their forms during the periods (
Old English OE, Middle English ME, New or Modern English NE/ME). The main
trends of their evolution in ME and NE can be defined as gradual loss of most
nominal features (except syntactical functions) and growth of verbal features. The
simplifying changes in the verb paradigm, and the decay of the OE inflectional
system account for the first of these trends - loss of forms of agreement in the
2.1. Old English
There were two participles in Old English: The present and past. The present
participle was approximately equivalent to the Modern English "-ing" form of a
verb (as in "The singing person") and the past participle was the form used an a
adjective or in a passive verbal construction to show what had happened to
someone, like in Modern English "I was killed" or "The song was sung.
In Old English, past participles of Germanic strong verbs were marked with a geprefix, as are most strong and weak past participles in Dutch and German today,
and often by a vowel change in the stem. Those of weak verbs were marked by the
ending -d, with or without an epenthetic vowel before it. Modern English past
participles derive from these forms (although the ge- prefix, which became y- in
Middle English, has now been lost). Old English present participles were marked
with an ending in -ende (or -iende for verbs whose infinitives ended in -ian).
2.2. Middle English
In Middle English, the form of the present participle varied across regions: ende (southwest, southeast, Midlands), -inde (southwest, southeast), -and (north), inge (southeast). The last is the one that became standard, falling together with the
suffix -ing used to form verbal nouns.
Declerck, Renaat. 1991b. Tense in English: Its structure and use in discourse. London: Routledge.
In ME the weak verbs built Participle II with the help of the dental suffix (e)d, -t, the strong verbs - with the help of vowel gradation and the suffix -en. The
Past Participle and the Past tense of the weak verbs fell together by the end of ME,
when the unstressed in the ultimate or penultimate syllable was dropped: ME
lookede and looked merged into NE looked; the Past Participle of the strong verbs
coincided with the Past Participle stem in ME in the classes which had the same
gradation vowel in both these stems. The OE prefix e-, which was a frequent
marker of the Past Participle was weakened to i- or y- in ME. Being verbal
adjectives Participles I and II lost their gender, case and number distinctions and
also the weak and strong forms in the same way as the adjectives, and even
somewhat earlier. They sometimes took -e in Early ME and were totally
uninflected in Late ME.
2.3. New (Modern) English
New English verbs have two participles:
The present participle, also sometimes called the active, imperfect, or
progressive participle, takes the ending -ing, for example doing, seeing, working,
running. It is identical in form to the verbal noun and gerund (see below). The term
present participle is sometimes used to include the gerund and the term "gerund–
participle" is also used.The past participle, also sometimes called the passive or
perfect participle, is identical to the past tense form (ending in -ed) in the case of
regular verbs, for example "loaded", "boiled", "mounted", but takes various forms
in the case of irregular verbs, such as done, sung, written, put, gone, etc.
In addition various compound participles can be formed, such as having
done, being done, having been doing, having been done.
The distinctions between the two participles were preserved in ME and NE:
Participle I had an active meaning and expressed a process or quality simultaneous
with the events described by the predicate of the sentence. Participle II had an
De Smet, Hendrik. 2010. English -ing-clauses and their problems: The structure of grammatical categories
active or passive meaning depending on the transitivity of the verb, and expressed
a preceding action or its results in the subsequent situation.It is important to note
that while the verbals lost their nominal grammatical categories, they retained their
nominal syntactic features: the syntactic functions corresponding to those of the
noun and adjectives; they also retained their verbal syntactic features - the ability
to take an object and an adverbial modifier (the growth of other verbal features is
connected with the development of analytical forms).
Morphological changes of verbs in participles.
Development of the Gerund.
The Late ME period witnessed the growth of a new verbal known in modern
grammars as the Gerund. The gerund can be traced to three sources: the OE verbal
noun in –un3 and –in3, the Present Participle and the Infinitive. In ME the Present
Participle and the verbal noun became identical: they both ended in -ing. This led
to the confusion of some of their features: verbal nouns began to take direct
objects, like participles and infinitives. This verbal feature — a direct object — as
well as the frequent absence of article before the -ing-form functioning as a noun
— transformed the verbal noun into a Gerund in the modern understanding of the
term. The disappearance of the inflected infinitive contributed to the change, as
some of its functions were taken over by the Gerund.
Hanging participles
A dangling modifier or misplaced modifier is a type of ambiguous
grammatical construct whereby a grammatical modifier could be misinterpreted as
being associated with a word other than the one intended, or with no particular
word at all. For example, a writer may have meant to modify the subject, but word
order used means that the modifier appears to modify an object instead. Such
ambiguities can lead to unintentional humor, or, in formal contexts, difficulty in
comprehension.Take, for example, the sentence Turning the corner, a handsome
school building appeared. The modifying clause Turning the corner is clearly
supposed to describe the behavior of the narrator (or other observer), but
grammatically it appears to apply either to nothing in particular, or to the
"handsome school building".
Similarly, in the sentence At the age of eight, my family finally bought a
dog, the modifier At the age of eight "dangles": it is not attached to the subject of
the main clause, and could imply that it was the family that was eight years old
when it bought the dog, or even that the dog was eight when it was bought, rather
than the intended meaning of giving the narrator's age at the time the family
"finally bought the dog".
Non-participial modifiers
Non-participial modifiers that dangle can also be troublesome:
After years of being lost under a pile of dust, Walter P. Stanley, III, left, found all
the old records of the Bangor Lions Club.
The above sentence, from a newspaper article, suggests that it is the subject
of the sentence, Walter Stanley, who was buried under a pile of dust, and not the
records. It is the prepositional phrase "after years of being lost under a pile of dust"
which dangles. This example has been cited in at least one usage manual as an
example of the kind of ambiguity that can result from a dangling modifier.In the
film Mary Poppins, Mr. Dawes Sr. dies of laughter after hearing the following
"I know a man with a wooden leg called Smith." "What was the name of his other
In the case of this joke, the placement of the phrase "called Smith" implies
that it is the leg that is named Smith, rather than the man.Another famous example
of this humorous effect is by Groucho Marx as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding in the
1930 film Animal Crackers:
Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English, London
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll
never know. Though under the most plausible interpretation of the first sentence,
Captain Spaulding would have been wearing the pajamas, the line plays on the
grammatical possibility that the elephant was instead.Strunk and White offer this
example: "As a mother of five, and with another on the way, my ironing board is
always up." Is the ironing board (grammatical subject) really the mother of five?
Less ambiguous: "As the mother of five, and with another on the way, I always
keep my ironing board up." Or: "My ironing board is always up, because I am the
mother of five, with another on the way."
Modifiers reflecting the mood or attitude of the speaker
Participial modifiers can sometimes be intended to describe the attitude or
mood of the speaker, even when the speaker is not part of the sentence. Some such
modifiers are standard and are not considered dangling modifiers: "Speaking of ",
and "Trusting that this will put things into perspective", for example, are
commonly used to transition from one topic to a related one or for adding a
conclusion to a speech.
Usage of "hopefully"
Since about the 1960s, controversy has arisen over the proper usage of the
adverb hopefully. Some grammarians object to constructions such as "Hopefully,
the sun will be shining tomorrow." Their complaint is that the term "hopefully"
ought to be understood as the manner in which the sun will shine. In order to
modify the whole sentence to convey the attitude of the speaker, they say, the
"hopefully" should be moved to the end: "the sun will be shining tomorrow,
"Hopefully" used in this way is a disjunct (cf. "admittedly", "mercifully",
"oddly"). Disjuncts (also called sentence adverbs) are useful in colloquial speech
for the concision they permit.No other word in English expresses that thought. In a
single word we can say it is regrettable that (regrettably) or it is fortunate that
(fortunately) or it is lucky that (luckily), and it would be comforting if there were
such a word as hopably or, as suggested by Follett, hopingly, but there isn't. In this
instance nothing is to be lost – the word would not be destroyed in its primary
meaning – and a useful, nay necessary term is to be gained. What had been
expressed in lengthy adverbial constructions, such as "it is regrettable that ..." or "it
is fortunate that ...", had of course always been shortened to the adverbs
"regrettably" or "fortunately". Bill Bryson says, "those writers who scrupulously
avoid 'hopefully' in such constructions do not hesitate to use at least a dozen other
words – 'apparently', 'presumably', 'happily', 'sadly', 'mercifully', 'thankfully', and
so on – in precisely the same way."
Merriam-Webster gives a usage note on its entry for "hopefully; the editors
point out that the disjunct sense of the word dates to the early 18th century and has
been in widespread use since at least the 1930s. Objection to this sense of the
word, they state, became widespread only in the 1960s. The editors maintain that
this usage is "entirely standard". Yet the choice of "regrettably" above as a
counterexample points out an additional problem. At the time that objection to
"hopefully" became publicized, grammar books relentlessly pointed out the
distinction between "regrettably" and "regretfully". The latter is not to be used as a
sentence adverb, they state; it must refer to the subject of the sentence. The misuse
of "regretfully" produces worse undesired results than "hopefully", possibly
contributing to disdain for the latter. The counterpart hopably was never added to
the language.
The gerund
In traditional grammars of English, the term gerund labels an important use
of the form of the verb ending in -ing (for details of its formation and spelling, see
English verbs). Other important uses are termed participle (used adjectivally or
adverbially), and as a pure verbal noun.An -ing form is termed gerund when it
behaves as a verb within a clause (so that it may be modified by an adverb or have
an object); but the resulting clause as a whole (sometimes consisting of only one
word, the gerund itself) functions as a noun within the larger sentence.
For example, consider the sentence "Eating this cake is easy." Here, the
gerund is the verb eating, which takes an object this cake. The entire clause eating
this cake is then used as a noun, which in this case serves as the subject of the
larger sentence.An item such as eating this cake in the foregoing example is an
example of a non-finite verb phrase; however, because phrases of this type do not
require a subject, it is also a complete clause. (Traditionally, such an item would be
referred to as a phrase, but in modern linguistics it has become common to call it a
As a conclusion, particple has a wide range of functions which have changed
and become complicated during the centuries.A participle is a verbal that is used as
an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. The term verbal indicates that a
participle, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore
expresses action or a state of being. However, since they function as adjectives,
participles modify nouns or pronouns. There are two types of participles: present
participles and past participles. Present participles end in -ing. Past participles end
in -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, or -ne as in the words asked, eaten, saved, dealt, seen, and
gone. A participial phrase is a group of words consisting of a participle and the
modifier(s) and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the direct
object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in
the participle, such as:Having been (participle)
a gymnast (subject complement for Lynn, via state of being expressed in participle)
Placement: In order to prevent confusion, a participial phrase must be placed as
close to the noun it modifies as possible, and the noun must be clearly stated.
Carrying a heavy pile of books, his foot caught on a step. *
Carrying a heavy pile of books, he caught his foot on a step.
In the first sentence, there is no clear indication of who or what is
performing the action expressed in the participle carrying. Certainly, foot can't be
logically understood to function in this way. This situation is an example of a
dangling modifier error, since the modifier (the participial phrase) is not modifying
any specific noun in the sentence and is thus left "dangling." Since a person must
be doing the carrying for the sentence to make sense, a noun or pronoun that refers
to a person must be in the place immediately after the participial phrase, as in the
second sentence.
Punctuation: When a participial phrase begins a sentence, a comma should be
placed after the phrase.
Arriving at the store, I found that it was closed.
Washing and polishing the car, Frank developed sore muscles.
If the participle or participial phrase comes in the middle of a sentence, it
should be set off with commas only if the information is not essential to the
meaning of the sentence.Sid, watching an old movie, drifted in and out of
sleep.The church, destroyed by a fire, was never rebuilt.
Note that if the participial phrase is essential to the meaning of the sentence,
no commas should be used:The student earning the highest grade point average
will receive a special award.The guy wearing the chicken costume is my cousin.If
a participial phrase comes at the end of a sentence, a comma usually precedes the
phrase if it modifies an earlier word in the sentence but not if the phrase directly
follows the word it modifies.The local residents often saw Ken wandering through
the streets.(The phrase modifies Ken, not residents.)Tom nervously watched the
woman, alarmed by her silence.(The phrase modifies Tom, not woman.)
Points to remember
A participle is a verbal ending in -ing (present) or -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, or -ne
(past) that functions as an adjective, modifying a noun or pronoun.A participial
complement(s).Participles and participial phrases must be placed as close to the
nouns or pronouns they modify as possible, and those nouns or pronouns must be
clearly stated.A participial phrase is set off with commas when it:
a) comes at the beginning of a sentence
b) interrupts a sentence as a nonessential element
c) comes at the end of a sentence and is separated from the word it modifies.
1. Brinton, Laurel J. & Elizabeth C. Traugott. 2005. Lexicalization and
language change.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Bybee, Joan L. 1985. Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning
and form.Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
3. Bybee, Joan L. & John L. McClelland. 2005. Alternatives to the
combinatorial paradigm oflinguistic theory based on domain general
principles of human cognition. The LinguisticReview 22, 381–410.
4. Croft, William. 1991. Syntactic categories and grammatical relations.
Chicago: University ofChicago Press.
5. Croft, William. 2001. Radical construction grammar: Syntactic theory in
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7. Declerck, Renaat. 1991a. A comprehensive descriptive grammar of
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discourse. London:Routledge.
9. De Smet, Hendrik. 2010. English -ing-clauses and their problems: The
structure ofgrammatical categories. Linguistics 48, 1153–93.
10.De Smet, Hendrik. Forthcoming. Spreading constructions: Diffusional
change in the Englishsystem of complementation. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
11.De Smet, Hendrik. In preparation. Participial perception verb complements.
Meaning andsyntax.
12.De Smet, Hendrik & Liesbet Heyvaert. 2009. The meaning of -ing:
Semantics and pragmatics.
13.Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on the Linguistics of
ContemporaryEnglish, London, 14–17 July 2009.
14.Egan, Thomas. 2008. Non-finite complementation: A usage-based study of
infinitive and ingclauses in English. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
15.Goldberg, Adele E. & Alex Del Giudice. 2005. Subject auxiliary inversion:
A natural category.Linguistics Review 22, 411–28
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