More on the uses of participles

January 15, 2011pdf

Participles are used in absolute phrases with a noun or pronoun going before them.

  • God willing, we shall meet again.
  • The weather being rough, they cancelled the flight.
  • The fog having lifted, the plane took off.

Note that each of these absolute phrases can be transformed into a subordinate clause.

  • If God is willing, we shall meet again.
  • As the weather was rough, they cancelled the flight.
  • When the fog had lifted, the plane took off.

Note that an absolute phrase is a phrase which is linked to the sentence containing it only by meaning and intonation. It does not have a grammatical link of any kind with the rest of the sentence.

A common error in the use of participles

A participle is a verb-adjective. It should be related to a proper subject of reference. If the subject is lacking or if a wrong subject is used, the whole sentence would be wrong.

Study the following sentence:

Having bitten the boy, the farmer killed the snake.

This sentence means that it was the farmer who bit the boy and not the snake. It should, therefore, be re-written as ‘The snake having bitten the boy, the farmer killed it’.

Another example is given below:

Driving down the road, a leopard leapt out in front of me.

This sentence means that it was the leopard which was driving down the road. It should, therefore, be rewritten as ‘As I was driving down the road, a leopard leapt out in front of me.’

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