What is Participle Phrase
A participle is an adjective that is formed from a verb. There are two types of participles in grammar: present participle and past participle. A participle phrase is a phrase that contains a participle and its objects, complements, and/or modifiers. Since participle is an adjective, the participle phrase also functions as an adjective.
A participle phrase always begins with the participle; the participle can be a past participle or present participle. It is very easy to distinguish the difference between past and present participles. Present participles always end in –ing whereas regular past participles end in –ed. The ending of irregular past participles, however, varies according to different words.
Shivering violently, the child came out of the water. – Present participle
Surrounded by mosquitoes, I wished I had stayed at home. – Past participle
It is important to note that participle phrases give a clearer meaning when they are close to the noun or pronoun they modify. Nevertheless, they can be used at the beginning, end and middle of the sentence.
Examples of Participle Phrases
Given below are some more examples of participial phrases.
Marinated overnight in garlic and spice mixture, the chicken was ready to be baked.
The cat, chasing the rat, climbed to the roof of the house.
He wiped his tears, removing his glasses.
The girl wearing the white dress is my cousin.
Jacques, worried about his family’s safety, paced the room.
Children interested in joining the choir are requested to meet the Music teacher.
The old house, destroyed by the fire, was never rebuilt.
The student obtaining the highest marks will receive a special gift.
You must have observed from these examples that participle phrases can go at the beginning, end and the middle of a sentence. You may also note that some participles are set off by commas while some are not. We’ll discuss the use of commas in the following section.
Punctuation with Participle Phrases
Participle phrases are often written with commas. In this section, we are discussing this use of commas.
If a participle phrase is at the beginning of a sentence, a comma should be placed at the end of the participle phrase.
Encouraged by the audience’s reaction, he continued his speech for another half an hour.
If the participle phrase is at the middle of the sentence, the phrase should be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas only if the phrase presents non-essential information.
Mary, worried about her son, called the police.
If the participle phrase is essential to the meaning of the sentence, commas should not be used.
The girl wearing the blue skirt is my sister.
If the participle phrase is at the end of the sentence, put a comma before the participle phrase. However, if the phrase directly follows the noun it modifies, commas should not be used.
I saw her walking along the beach.
I watched her carefully, troubled by her behavior.
Participle Phrase – Summary
- A participle phrase is a phrase that contains a participle and its objects, complements, and/or modifiers.
- A participle phrase acts as an adjective.
- Participles and participle phrases must be placed as close to the nouns or pronouns they modify.
- Use of commas depends on the position of the participle phrase and the type of information they present.