THE PRESENT (OR ACTIVE) PARTICIPLE.
- A. Form :
The infinitive + ing. e.g. working, loving, sitting.
- B. Use :
- To form the continuous tenses
He is working. You’ve been dreaming.
- As adjective
Running water. Floating wreckage.
Dripping taps. Leaking pipes.
Here there is equal stress on participle and noun. Compare with gerund + noun combinations.
- After have + object.
He had me swimming in a week
We have people standing on aur steps all day.
I won’t have him cleaning his bike in the kitchen.
- A present participle can sometimes replace a relative pronoun + verb.
A map that marks/marked plitical boundaries =
A map marking political boundaries.
People who wish/wished to visit the caves =
People wishing to visit the caves.
Children who need/needed medical attention =
Children needing medical attention.
- Present participle/participle phrases such as adding / pointing out / reminding / warning can introduce statements in indirect speech:
He told me to start early, reminding me that the roads would be crowded.
The above uses have already been dealt with. The present participle can also be used:
- After verbs of sensation.
- After catch / find / leave + object.
- After go, come, spend, waste, be busy.
- Present participles can sometimes replace subject + verb in other main or subordinate clauses other than those mentioned above.
PRESENT PARTICIPLE AFTER VERBS OF SENSATION.
- The basic verbs of sensation see, hear, feel, smell, and the verbs listen (to), notice and watch can be followed by object + present participle :
I see him passing my house every day.
Didn’t you hear the clock striking?
I felt the car skidding.
She smelt something burning and saw smoke rising.
I watched them rehearsing the play.
The action in the present participle may be either complete or incomplete: I saw him changing the wheel could mean that I watched the whole action or that I saw only part of it.
- See, hear, feel and sometimes listen (to), notice and watch can also be followed by object + bare infinitive:
We saw him leave the house.
I heard him make arrangements for his journey.
The infinitive implies that the action is complete. I saw him change the wheel means that I saw the whole action.
- Comparison of the two forms.
The participle is the more generally useful as it can express both complete and incomplete actions. But the infinitive is useful when we want to emphasize that the action is complete. It is also neater that the participle when there is a succession of actions:
I saw him enter the room, unlock a drawer, take out a document, photograph it and put it back.
- In the passive the full infinitive is used after verbs of the sense:
He was heard to say that the minister had been bribed.
CATCH, FIND, LEAVE + OBJECT + PRESENT PARTICIPLE.
- A. Catch/find:
I caught them stealing my apples. (I found them doing this).
If she catches you reading her diary, she’ll be furious.
The action expressed by the participle is always one which displeases the subject.
With find there is no feeling of displeasure:
I found him standing at the door =
I saw him standing/He was standing at the door when I arrived.
With find the object could be inanimate:
He found a tree lying across the road.
- B. Leave can be used with a participle:
I left him talking to Bob =
He was talking to Bob when I left.
GO, COME, SPEND, WASTE, BE BUSY.
- A. Go and Come.
Go and Come can be followed by the participles of verbs of physical activity and the verb shop:
They are going riding/sailing.
Come dancing. I’m going shopping this afternoon.
(For go and come followed by infinitives of purpose).
- B. Spend/waste + an expression of time or money + present participle:
He spends two hours (a day) travelling.
He doesn’t spend much time preparing his lessons.
We wasted a whole afternoon trying to repair the car.
He spent a lot of money modernizing the house.
- C. Be Busy + present participle: She is/was busy packing.
A PRESENT PARTICIPLE PHRASE REPLACING A MAIN CLAUSE.
The participle constructions in A and B below are chiefly used in written English.
- A. When two actions by the same subject occur simultaneously it is usually possible to express one of them by a present participle. The participle can be before or after the finite verb:
He rode away. He whistled as he went. = He rode away whistling.
He holds the rope with one hand and stretches out the other to the boy in the water = Holding the rope with one hand, he stretches etc.
- B. When one action is immediately followed by another by the same subject the first action can often be expressed by a present participle.
The participle must be placed first:
He opened the drawer and took out a revolver. =
Opening the drawer he took out a revolver.
She raised the trapdoor and pointed to a flight of steps. =
Raising the trapdoor she pointed to a fliht of steps.
We take off our shoes and creep cautiously along the passage =
Taking off our shoes we creep cautiously along the passage.
It would seem more logical here to use the perfect participle and say Having opened, Having raised, Having taken off, but this is not necessary except when the use of the present participle might lead to ambiguity. Eating his dinner he rushed out of the house would give the impression that he left the house with his platein his hand. Here, therefore, it would be better to say Having eaten his dinner….
- C. When the second action forms part of the first, or is a result of it, we can express the second action by a present participle:
She went out, slamming the door.
He fired, wounding one of the bandits.
I fell, striking my head againts the door and cuting it. (here we have three actions, the last two expressed by participles).
The participle need not necessarily have the same subject as the first verb:
The plane crashed; its bombs exploding as it hit the ground.
A PRESENT PARTICIPLE PHRASE REPLACING A SUBORDINATE CLAUSE.
These constructions are chiefly found in written English.
The present participle can replace as/since/because + subject + verb, i.e. it can help to explain the action which follows:
Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to buy food on his journeyhe took large supplies with him = as he knew etc.
Fearing that the police would recognize him he never went out in daylight = As he feared etc.
Note that being at the beginning of a sentence will normally mean as he is/as he was:
Being a student he was naturally interested in museums =
Because/As he was a student etc.
It could not mean ‘while he was a student’.
The subject of the participle need not be the same as the subject of the following verb:
The day being fine, we decided to go swimming.
In cases like this the participle must follow its noun/pronoun. Being fine the day, we decided…is incorrect, but Being athletic, Tom found the climb quite easy is all right, as Tom is the subject of both the participle and the following verb.
It is possible to use two or more participle, one after the other:
Realizing that he hadn’t enough money and not wanting to borrow from his father, he decided to pawn his watch.
Not knowing the language and having no friends in the town, he found it hard to get work.
THE PERFECT PARTICIPLE (ACTIVE).
- A. Form :
Having + past participle, e.g. having done, having seen.
- B. Use :
The perfect participle can be used instead of the present participle in sentences, (i.e. where one action is immediately followed by another with the same subject):
Trying one end of the rope to his bed, he threw the other end out of the window =
Having tied one end of the rope to his bed, he threw the otherend out of the window.
The perfect participle emphasizes that the first action is complete before the second one starts, but it not normally necessary in combinations of this kind, except when the use of the present participle might lead to confusion. Reading the instructions, he snatched up the fire extinguisher might give the impression that the two actions were simultaneous. Here, therefore, the perfect participle would be better:
Having read the instructions, he snatched up the fire extinguisher.
The perfect participle is, however, necessary when there is an interval of time between the two actions:
Having failed twice, he didn’t want to try again.
It is also used when the first action covered a period of time:
Having been his own boss for such a long time, he found it hard to eccept orders from another.
THE PAST PARTICIPLE (PASSIVE) AND THE PERFECT PARTICIPLE (PASSIVE).
- A. Form :
The past participle of regular verbs is formed by adding ed or d to the infinitive, e.g. worked, loved.
For the past participle of irregular verbs:
- B. Use
- As an adjective.
Stolen money a written report fallen trees
Broken glass tired drivers blocked roads
- To form the perfect tenses/infinitives and participles and the passive voice :
He has seen to have loved it was broken
- The past participle can replace a subject + passive verb just as the present participle can replace subject + active verb :
She enters. She is accompanied by her mother =
She enters, acommpanied by her mother.
He was aroused by the crash and leapt to his feet =
Aroused by the crash, he leapt to his feet.
The bridge had been weakened by successive storms and was no longer safe =
Weakened by successive storms, the bridge was no longer safe or having been weakened etc.
As he was convinced that they were trying to poison him, he refused to eat anything =
Convinced that they were trying to poison him, he refused to eat anything.
- C. The perfect participle passive (having been + past participle) is used when it is necessary to emphasize that the action expressed by the participle happened before the action expressed by the next verb :
Having been warned about the bandits, he left his valuables at home.
(He had been warned etc).
Having been bitten twice, the postman refused to deliver our letters unless we chained our dog up.
(He had been bitten etc).
A participle is considered to belong to the non/pronoun which precedes it :
Tom, horrified at what he had done, could at first say nothing.
Romeo, believing that Juliet was dead; decided to kill himself.
A man carrying a large parcel got out of the bus.
Note that the participle may be separated from its noun/pronoun by a main verbs :
Jones and Smith came in, followed by their wives.
She rushed past the policeman, hoping he wouldn’t ask what she had in her suitcase.
If there is no noun/pronoun in this position the participle is considered to belong to the subject of the following main verb :
Stunned by the blow, Peter fell heavily. (Peter had been stunned).
Beliering that he is alone, the villain expresses his thoughts aloud.
If this principle is disregarded confusion results. Waiting for a bus a brick fell on my head makes it appear that the brick was waiting for a bus, which is nonsense. A participle linked in this way to he wrong noun/pronoun is said to be ‘misrelated’. The above sentence should be rewritten As I was waiting for a bus a brick fell on my head.
Other examples of misrelated participles :
When using this machine it must be remembered…
Correct form :
When using this machine you must remember…
Believing that I was the only person who knew about this beach, the sight of someone else on it annoyed me very much.
Correct form :
As I believed I was the only person etc. Or
Believing that I was the only person on the beach, I was annoyed by the sight of someone else.