What a participial phrase does

Participial Phrase: Definition and Examples

Participial phrases are words, phrases, or clauses used in a sentence to modify the subject or object. A participial phrase can also be known as a participle phrase.

These phrases are used as modifiers and can be recognized by a few common traits:

  • They usually begin with a present or past participle, but there are exceptions.
  • In most sentences, a participial phrase can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning.
  • Participial phrases generally follow a subject, verb, or object.
  • They can also be used at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Click the “Hire Writer” button below
  • Fill in the English Assignment requirements and other required fields
  • Make and confirm payment
  • Sit, relax, and enjoy as you wait for your high-quality paper!

Types of Participial Phrases

Participles are usually in present or past tense.

Present participle

A present participle is used in a participial phrase when the subject acts as the predicate verb. Present participles end in ‘ing.’

For example:

  • The bird, flying high in the sky, was startled by the loud noise.

In this sentence, “flying” is a present participle modifying “bird,” and it can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

Present participles are also used in progressive verb tenses.

For example:

  • “I am singing,” said Maria while she walked to the stage.

In this sentence, “singing” is a present participle that modifies the subject pronoun “I,” and it can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

Past participle

A past participle is used in a participial phrase when the subject of that sentence acted the predicate verb previously.

For example:

  • The bird that was startled by the loud noise, flew away quickly.

In this sentence, “startled” is the past participle modifying the subject pronoun “bird,” and it can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

The past participle of regular verbs is created by adding ‘ed’ to the base verb form.

For example:

  • “work” becomes “worked.”

For irregular verbs, the past participle is created by changing the spelling of the base verb.

For example:

  • “sing” becomes “sung.”

Past participles can be used in both simple and perfect verb tenses.

For example:

  • “I have finished working,” said Maria when she came home from her last shift.

In this sentence, “finished” is a past participle modifying the verb “have,” and it can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

Participle clauses

A participle clause is a participial phrase that begins with a subordinating conjunction and ends with a comma. When writing a sentence with a participle clause, the comma should come before the subordinating conjunction.

For example:

  • After the sun had risen, we all went outside to play.

In this sentence, ‘after’ is a subordinating conjunction that begins a participial phrase modifying the subject pronoun “we.”

We can remove “after,” and the meaning of the sentence remains intact.

The comma is necessary because it separates the main clause (the part that can stand alone as a sentence) from the participial phrase.

For example:

  • After the sun had risen we all went outside to play.

This sentence is unclear whether “after” is modifying ‘we’ or whether it is modifying ‘the sun.’ Hence the need for a comma.

Perfect participle clauses

A perfect participle clause is a participial phrase that begins with an auxiliary verb and ends with a comma. When writing a sentence with a perfect participle clause, the comma should come before the auxiliary verb.

For example:

• Having been told not to go outside, we all stayed inside.

In this sentence, ‘having been’ is an auxiliary verb that begins a participial phrase modifying “we.”
We can remove ‘having been,’ and the meaning of the sentence remains intact.

Other participial Phrase Examples

• Having finished reading the book, I started to work for my next class.

In this sentence, “having finished reading the book” is a present participial phrase modifying “I.” It can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.
Table: present participial phrase

• The bird, flying high in the sky, looked as though it would never come down.
In this sentence, “flying” is a present participle modifier for “bird.” It can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

• The woman, walking slowly down the street, fumbled with her purse.
In this sentence, “walking” is a present participle modifier for “woman.”
Table: Present participle

• The children, tired from running around all day, quickly fell asleep when their parents tucked them into bed.
In this sentence, “tired” is a past participle modifier for “children.” It can be removed from the sentence without changing its meaning.

• I was happy to see the once-forgotten friends, now united again.
In this sentence, “forgotten” is a past participle modifier for “friends.” This participle can be removed from the sentence and retain the original message.
Table: Past participle

Participle Phrase Punctuation

When a participial phrase ends in a pronoun or noun that it modifies, then the comma should come before the pronoun.

For example:

  • The driver, who had been drinking all day, drove his car onto the tracks.

In this sentence, “who had been drinking all day” modifies “driver,” and the comma should come before the pronoun.

  • The boy, who had been swimming in the lake all day, was exhausted.

In this sentence, “who had been swimming” modifies “the boy,” and the comma should come before the pronoun.

When a participial phrase ends in “and” or “as well as” and modifies a noun, the comma should come before the conjunction.

For example:

  • The children, as well as their parents, will be arriving soon.
  • The sun, which had been covered up all day, was beginning to set.

When a participial phrase ends in a participial phrase and modifies a noun, the comma should come immediately before the antecedent.

For example:

  • The driver, who had been drinking all day, waited until he arrived at the tracks to drive his car onto them.

In this sentence, “who had been drinking all day” modifies “driver,” and the comma should come before “who.”

  • The boy, who has been running for the past three miles, is exhausted.

In this sentence, “who has been running…” modifies “the boy,” and the comma should come before “who.”

  • The children, tired from running around all day, waited for their parents to arrive.

In this sentence, “tired from running around all day” modifies “children,” and the comma should come before “tired.”

A comma should come after the phrase when a participle phrase begins a sentence and modifies a noun.

For example:

  • Running through the field, the child saw a rabbit.

In this sentence, “running through the field” modifies “the child.”

  • Hiking up the mountain, it turned out to be more challenging than they thought it would be.

In this sentence, “hiking up the mountain” modifies “it.”

  • Swimming in the lake all day, the boy was exhausted.

In this sentence, “swimming in the lake all day” modifies “the boy.”

No comma should be used before a participial phrase when it ends a sentence and modifies a noun.

For example:

  • The children tired from running around all day, quickly fell asleep when their parents tucked them into bed.

Here, “tired from running around all day” modifies “children.” A comma is not needed before “tired.”

  • The driver who had been drinking all day, waited until he arrived at the tracks to drive his car onto them.

In this sentence, “who had been drinking all day” modifies “driver.” A comma is not needed before “who.”

  • Formatting
  • Both proofreading and editing
  • Unlimited Revisions
  • 24/7 support and 100% money back guarantee

Bottom Line

Participial phrases are a way to add additional information to a sentence without creating a separate clause. They are used to avoid passive voice and should be placed as close as possible to the noun that they modify

Similar Posts