Participial phrase

Participial phrase

A participial phrase is a participle and its accompanying word or words. A participle phrase modifies a noun or a pronoun. It may contain a direct object and an adverb that modifies the participle. Below are some examples:

  1. Sitting in his office, he rereads the instructions. ("Sitting in his office" is the participial phrase.)
  2. Thomas Edison, experimenting with different materials in his laboratory, eventually improved the light bulb. ("Experimenting with different materials in his laboratory" is the participial phrase.)

Participial nominalization

The participial nominalization of a sentence is a noun phrase describing the state of affairs reported by the sentence. The main noun of the noun phrase is the participial form of the main verb of the sentence in simple sentences. Thus the participial nominalization of "Socrates is sitting" is "Socrates' being seated". It is harder to form the participial nominalization of a complex sentence such as "If Jones is a woman, then Jones is human", and one typically resorts to "Its being the case that" constructions: "Its being the case that if Jones is a woman, then Jones is human".

What the referents of participial nominalizations of true sentences are whether they are entities that exist is a deep philosophical question.

A participle itself is any verb form that functions as an adjective. For example, if one were to say, "I was aching when I crossed the finish line," the verb 'aching' modifies 'I', just as an adjective would. If we were to take out the word 'aching' and insert an adjective, the sentence would make just as much sense: "I was pale when I crossed the finish line."

See also


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