by Davy Kraken
A library featuring commonly committed errors of the English language.
|Participles are verbs that also act as adjectives. Present participles are formed by adding –ing to the end of a verb; past participles are formed as though they are preceded by “have” – the perfect tense. A participial phrase consists of a participle and any related words, and it can be found at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Depending on the placement of the phrase and the noun it modifies, you may need to add a comma.
If a participial phrase comes at the beginning of the sentence, it should always be followed by a comma.
Looking out my window, I saw a bird.
Taking my time, I savored the meal.
If a participial phrase comes in the middle of a sentence and is integral to the meaning of the sentence, don’t place commas around it. If a participial phrase takes you out of the main flow of the sentence, then place commas around it.
The bird perched outside my window is a cardinal.
My dad, dripping wet, walked out of the rain and into the house.
If a participial phrase comes at the end of a sentence, place a comma before it, unless the word being modified comes directly before the participial phrase (or it’s part of a compound participial phrase).
She left the room, angered and frustrated by the pointless argument.
I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.
Don’t confuse present participles with gerunds. Gerunds are verbs ending in –ing that act as nouns.
Reading is fundamental. (Just as you’d say, “Math is fundamental.”)
One of my favorite activities is reading books. (Just as you’d say, “One of my favorite subjects is math.”)