Let’s review some basic grammar terms. There are two kinds of participles: • Present participles are formed by adding –ingto a verb. (swimming, laughing, jogging, thinking, etc.) • Regular past participles are formed by adding –edto a verb. (laughed, jogged, danced, practiced, etc.) • Some past participles are irregular in form. (swum, thought, begun, rung, etc.) Participles combine with helping verbs when they are used as the verb of a sentence: • Clare was swimming across the lake. • Thomas has laughed a great deal about that funny story. • We have not begun to fight. • The class bell has rung.
Participles can be used without helping verbs to form participial phrases. • Participial phrases serve as adjectives that modify nouns or pronouns next to the participial phrase. Jumping on the trampoline, Celeste turned a summersault. Confused by the teacher’s question, the student did not speak. Sunk deep in the mud, the horse could not climb out of the pit. Notice that a comma follows introductory participial phrases.
Participial phrases can also be in the middle of a sentence. Notice the placement of commas in each. If the information is not essential, then two commas are used. Dr. Jackson,disturbed by the child’s symptoms, ordered several tests. Carol’s car,sliding out of control on the ice, hit a telephone pole. If the information is essential and tells us which “one” we are referring to, no commas are used. The girlwearing the purple sweater is his girlfriend. We need this information to know which girl we are talking about.
Be careful with participial phrases. The must be next to the noun or pronoun they modify. If we follow our pattern, then consider the following: Josie danced across the stage, leaping into the air gracefully. Is this what we really mean? Can a stage leap? Obviously not. Our sentence would be clearer by moving the phrase closer to the word it is supposed to modify. Josie, leaping into the air gracefully, danced across the stage. OR Leaping into the air gracefully, Josie danced across the stage.
Now you try! On a sheet of paper… • Write 5 sentences using participial phrases. • Include some with a participial phrase at the beginning and some with the phrase in the middle. • Be careful to include appropriate comma usage along with capitalization and end punctuation. • Underline the participial phrase and draw a line to the word it modifies. Your sentences may be about any topic: sports, politics, memories, social issues, family, friends, favorite places, etc.