Verbals: Participles

  1. A participle is the form of a verb, but it is NOT a verb.
  2. A participle is an adjective.
  3. A participle ends in “ing” or “ed” or “en.”

[In the following examples, the participle is bold and the verb is underlined.]

  • As the colonies became a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, public schools had another purpose.

First find the subject and verb of each clause: COLONIES BECAME and SCHOOLS HAD.

With that done, we can see that DEDICATED is not the subject. Instead, it describes the word NATION. Therefore, it is an adjective. A form of a verb that ends in ED, EN or ING and acts as an adjective is a participle.

  • Transformed by the national economy, urban factories developed a need for disciplined, obedient workers.

The subject (factories) DEVELOPED. So what does TRANSFORMED do? It describes FACTORIES.

  • Learning to solve problems in groups, the students began to understand how to fit within the social structure.

Identify the subject and verb. What is this sentence about? STUDENTS. What is the verb? BEGAN. What part of the sentence does LEARNING go with? The subject. It describes STUDENTS, so it is a form of the verb acting as an adjective—a participle.

The steps to finding a participle:

1. Find the subject and verb to eliminate any confusion.

  • Al Gore, knocked around by Bill Bradley for being “pro-gun,” is confidently pushing gun control to the forefront of his presidential campaign.

AL GORE is the subject. IS PUSHING is the verb. KNOCKED is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective, modifying Al GORE.

  • The activist called for a waiting period for gun purchases to help reduce illegal gun trafficking.

The subject is ACTIVIST. The verb is CALLED. WAITING is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective, modifying PERIOD.

  • Headed by conservative media watchdog leader Brent Bozell, the Parents Television Council announced the results of a study.

The subject is THE PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL. The verb is ANNOUNCED. HEADED is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective, modifying the subject.

  • The network reported on the springtime ritual of young men and women flocking to warm beaches around the globe.

The subject is NETWORK. The verb is REPORTED. FLOCKING is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective, modifying men and women. It can’t act as a verb without an auxiliary verb. For example: Young men and women WERE flocking to warm beaches.

2. Decide what part of the sentence the verbal belongs to.

  • The statement issued by Columbia noted that a current weakness of the Internet is the inability to authenticate material.

The subject is STATEMENT. The verb is NOTED. ISSUED is part of the complete subject. It is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective.

  • The armed services struggle to meet recruiting goals in a tight job market.

The subject is SERVICES. The verb is STRUGGLE. RECRUITING is part of the complete predicate. It is a form of the verb, acting as an adjective modifying goals.

Related posts:


  1. Rich says

    Very informative post. Anyway, in the following sentences:

    “Monica was promoted.”
    “Vehicle fragments were recovered from the ocean floor.”

    are “promoted” and “recovered” participles modifying “Monica” and “fragments”, respectively, or are they part of the verb phrases “was promoted” and “were recovered”, respectively?

    This has been bugging me for the longest time. I hope you can help. Thanks.

  2. says

    They are part of the verb. The problem is that the verb is in passive voice. The subject doing the action is invisible. Who promoted Monica? Who recovered the fragments? The sentences would be improved and the confusion eliminated if they were written in active voice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *