Phrases: Participial

The participial phrase includes the participle and the object of the participle or any words modified by or related to the participle.

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

  • The car sliding out of control toward building will likely hit the window.

SLIDING modifies the CAR. The verb is WILL HIT.

  • Cameron spotted his brother throwing rocksat the passing cars.

THROWING is not a verb in this sentence. It describes the brother. Without an auxiliary verb, it cannot function as a verb.

SPOTTED is the verb for the subject CARMEN.

  • The astronaut chosen to ride the space shuttle to Mars is afraid of heights.

CHOSEN describes the ASTRONAUT.

  • Running down the street, Alicia tripped and fell.

RUNNING certainly indicates something the subject is doing, but the verbs for the subject are TRIPPED and FELL.

  • Penned in by other runners, Steve was unable to make a break for the finish line.

STEVE is the subject. WAS is the verb. PENNED describes STEVE.

  • Mark returned the damaged package to the manufacturer.

Follow the steps to find the participle. What is the subject? MARK. What is the verb (i.e. what did Mark do?) RETURNED. And DAMAGED describes PACKAGE.

  • Alex fell down the broken staircase.


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  1. Cecilia says

    Can you break down this example a bit more? “The astronaut chosen to ride the space shuttle to Mars is afraid of heights.”

    What is “to ride the space shuttle” in that sentence? The object of the participle “chosen”? I have a hard time identifying the objects of verbals; they don’t seem to answer “what?” or “whom” as clearly as the objects of verbs and prepositions do.

    I have found your site tremendously helpful. Any additional help you can give would be greatly appreciated!

  2. says

    Thanks for the question. It’s a little tricky and some ways gets down to the minute levels of grammar that drive most sane people around the bend. But I’ll give it my best shot. You are correct that “to ride the space shuttle” is the object of the verbal “chosen.” If you think about it, it does answer the question “what?” in completing “what” he or she was chosen for.
    With that said, unless you are being tested on objects of verbals (and your teacher is just a bit cruel) it is probably sufficient to thing of the whole phrase (chosen to ride the space shuttle to Mars) as modifying the astronaut and leave it at that. In other words, “The astronaut chosen to ride the space shuttle to Mars” is the complete subject, including its complements.
    Hope that helps!

  3. steve says

    i love the i am about to be a good english thanks for every thing.

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