Participial Phrase: The Secret to Make Engaging Sentence

10 December 2023 / Team Fun English Course

As you immerse yourself in English media to grasp the language, you may have encountered a participial phrase, perhaps without even recognizing it. In fact, you might have already used it in your practice without full awareness.

But what is a participial phrase? This article will help you learn more about its definition, function, and types.

The Meaning of Participial Phrase

Meaning of participial phrase

Before diving into defining a participial phrase, you should understand a participle. What is a participle?

Before delving into the concept of a participial phrase, it’s essential to grasp the nature of a participle. What is a participle?

A participle is a form of a verb that works as an adjective, typically identified by the addition of “-ing” or “-ed” to the verb stem. Consider these examples:

“The snoring guy” – This phrase conveys that the guy is in a state of snoring.

“The dancing couple” – This phrase depicts a couple engaged in the act of dancing.

“A confused little kid” – This phrase indicates that the little kid is experiencing confusion.

A participial phrase, on the other hand, is a group of words centered around a participle, along with its modifiers, that serves to modify a noun or adverb. Here are some illustrative examples:

“Snoring so loudly, the guy eventually became a nuisance to the other passengers.”

“The couple, dancing gracefully across the floor, captivated the hearts of many at the grand gala tonight.”

In these examples, the phrases “snoring so loudly” and “dancing gracefully across the floor” function as participial phrases.

Purpose of Participial Phrase

Function of participial phrase

The primary role of participial phrases lies in giving descriptive information about a noun or pronoun in a sentence. However, their ‘power’ extends beyond mere description. When used effectively, the function of participial phrases are:

  • Adding a sense of rhythm and movement to the sentences makes them more engaging for the reader.
  • Establish meaningful connections and highlight the relevance of certain elements within a sentence.
  • Introduce new ideas or contextual background for the following sentence, facilitating effective transitions between ideas.

Types of Participial Phrases

Types of participial phrases

Mainly, there are two types of participial phrases, which are:

Present Participial Phrase

A present participial phrase consists of participles that end in “-ing” and serves to describe ongoing actions or offer additional details about the subject in a sentence. For example:

“The joyous children, laughing and playing in the park, seemed so delightful.”

In this example, “laughing and playing in the park” operates as a present participial phrase, illustrating the actions of the joyous children.

“The author, writing passionately, finished the final chapters of his book.”

Similarly, in this example, “writing passionately” acts as a present participial phrase, highlighting the subject’s actions, which is “the author.”

Past Participial Phrase

As shown by its name, a past participial phrase is formed using a participle in the past tense. This means the verb typically ends with “-ed” (such as “confused,” “walked,” “danced”) or an irregular past verb (such as “broken,” “fell,” “began”). It is employed to describe an action that has already been completed.

For example:

“The broken pot, fixed with glue, looked good as new.”

In this example, “fixed with glue” is the past participial phrase describing the broken pot. “Fixed” is the regular past form of the verb “fix.”

“The book, written in the 19th century, provides valuable historical insights.”

“Written in the 19th century” is the past participial phrase describing the book. “Written” is the irregular past form of the verb “write.”

Participial Phrase vs Gerund

Participial phrase vs gerund

In exploring English, you’ll encounter the resemblance between participial phrases and gerunds. While seemingly alike, these principles differ significantly and depend greatly on the sentence context. For instance:

“The girl, reading an interesting story, was completely captivated.”

Here, “reading a captivating story” is a participial phrase modifying “the girl,” describing her action.

“Reading is her favorite hobby.”

In this sentence, “Reading” is a gerund, serving as the subject and representing her favorite activity.

Want to learn more about English? Enrolling in Fun English Course’s exceptional programs and great tutors is a great way to master the language, including understanding participial phrases. Join us today and elevate your language skills!

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