Non-Finite Forms of Verbs – The Participle

The Participle | Kinds of Participles

Read this sentence

Hearing the lion’s roar, the hunter took aim.

The work hearing qualifies the Noun hunter as an Adjective does.

It is formed from the Verb hear, and governs an Object.

Therefore, the word hearing is both like a Verb and an Adjective. Such a word is called a Participle.

[A Participle is so called because it is partly a verb and partly an Adjective, and ‘participates’ in both functions.]

There are two kinds of Participles :

  1. The Present Participle is always Active. It denotes an incomplete action or state, and it always ends in -ing.

I can hear her singing a song.
We met a girl carrying a basket of flowers.
Do you see the boy riding on the horse?

  1. The Past Participle denotes an action (or state) which is completed and hence is no longer in progress. The Past Participle used adjectively is Passive if the Verb from which it comes is Tramitiw, It ends in -en, -n; or -ed, -d, -t.

Terrified, they stood crowded together.
We saw the trees laden with apples.
Blinded by lighting, she fell senseless.
Driven by fury, the lion attacked the hunter..

A Participle can be used in three ways:

  1. As an Attributive Adjective; as,
    A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    A burnt child dreads the fire.
    A lost opportunity never returns.
  2. Predictively, to complete the sentence; as,
    The boy seems contented.              We found her weeping.
    He appears to be learned.               The boy came laughing.
  3. Absolutely, with Noun or Pronoun going before; as,
    The sun having risen, the birds began to sing.
    The weather being hot, I did not go out.
    God willing we shall all pass.
    The teacher being absent, the boys made a noise.
    John being ill, the doctor was sent for at once.

NOTE : The phrases in italics are called Absolute Phrases. The Noun or Pronoun that goes before the Participle is called the Nominative Absolute, because it is neither the Subject nor the Object of any Finite Verb, but stands alone with its Participle.


Whenever a Participle is used, the Noun or Pronoun to which it refers must also be mentioned; as,

Walking through the park, the sun was very hot.

What is wrong with this sentence? The sentence as it stands means that the ‘sun’ was walking through the park. In other words, there is no Noun or Pronoun to which the Participle walking refers. We should, therefore, rewrite the sentence; as,

Walking through the park, I found the sun very hot.

Here are more examples of the wrong use of the Present Participle :

  1. Arriving late, the show had already begun. [Say — ‘Arriving late, he found that the show had already begun’.]
  2. Being a rainy day, I did not go out. [Say — It being a rainy day, I did not go out’.]
  3. Walking in the garden, the clock struck ten. [Say — ‘Walking in the garden, / heard the clock strike ten’].
  4. Going round the comer, a horrible sight was seen. [Say — ‘Going round the comer, I saw a horrible sight’].
  5. Being fine, I went out for a walk. [Say — ‘The weather’ being fine, I went Out for a walk’.]

But the following constructions are right :

Considering all points, he was quite right.

Roughly speaking [= If one speaks roughly], there were forty persons present there.

Assuming that she is guilty, what is the punishment?

NOTE : The Participle in such cases is called an Impersonal Absolute.

Non-Finite Forms of Verbs – The Participle Exercises

Exercise 1: Complete each sentence, by adding a suitable Present Participle or an Infinitive :

  1. We saw the thief_________________________________________
  2. We watched the train_____________________________________
  3. We eat________________________________________________
  4. They stopped___________________________________________
  5. He’s gone out___________________________________________
  6. This house is_____________________________________ ______
  7. Don’t hesitate___________________________________________
  8. Her greatest pleasure is____________________________________
  9. Can you smell something___________________________________
  10. She could feel her heart____________________________________
  11. Did you notice anyone_____________________________________
  12. We listened to the band____________________________________
  13. Just look at the balloon____________________________________
  14. We heard her____________________________________________
  15. We mustn’t keep our guests_________________________________
  16. I found her_____________________________________________
  17. The news left us__________________________________________
  18. We caught her___________________________________________
  19. You had better start the engine______________________________
  20. Don’t let me catch you____________________________________

Exercise 2 – Rewrite the following sentences, using the Participial Construction, as shown below :

  1. The hunter took careful aim and shot the lion.
    The hunter, taking careful aim, shot the lion.
    Taking careful aim, the hunter shot the lion.
  2. I saw her weeping and went to see what was wrong.
    Seeing her weeping, I went to see what was wrong.
  3. As the weather was warm, I took off my coat.
    The weather being warm, I took off my coat,
  4. When we arrived at the station, we saw the train just going out.
    On arriving at the station, we saw the train just going out.
  1. The thief saw the policeman and ran away.
  2. Green put on his overcoat and went out for a walk.
  3. We turned to the left and entered a wood.
  4. As my friend was not ready, I had to go alone.
  5. He loudly knocked at the gate and demanded admission.
  6. As the weather was fine, we went out.
  7. When he returned home he found the child missing.
  8. The boy heard the noise and woke up.
  9. The holy man took pity on the mouse and turned it into a cat.
  10. As it was a very hot day, I stayed in the house.
  11. When we arrived at the station, we found that the train had just left.
  12. I walked up to the front door and rang the bell.
  13. The policeman ran with all his speed and was able to catch the thief.
  14. The thief opened the window and entered the bedroom very quietly.
  15. As they were unable to find the house of their friend, they came home again.

Exercise 3 – Rewrite the following sentences, using the Past Participle, as shown below :

  1. The letter was written in a very bad handwriting and was difficult to read.
    The letter, (being/) written in a very bad handwriting, was difficult to read.
  2. He was encouraged by his success and made further efforts.
    (Being) encouraged by his success, he made further efforts.
  1. He was dissatisfied with his present pay and resigned his job.
  2. He was driven out of his country and settled down in a foreign land.
  3. He was discouraged by his failure and made no further efforts.
  4. The old woman was robbed of all her money and found herself helpless in a strange city.
  5. The sentries were completely exhausted and went to bed at once.
  6. The master was displeased at what his servant said and ordered him to leave the house at once.
  7. We were fired of waiting and decided to return home.
  8. The husband was annoyed at his wife’s rude behaviour and went to bed without having dinner.
  9. The letter was very badly written and we had great difficulty in under­standing its contents.
  10. He was encouraged by his friends and determined to win laurels in life.

Non-Finite Forms of Verbs

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