Grammar: Moonlighting verbs participles

Participles are verbs working side jobs as adjectives or nouns. All that is needed to change a verb to a noun or a modifier is a common suffix: –ing, –d, –ed, –t, –n, or –en.

Participles are moonlighting verbs 

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey:

1. Verbs can act as adjectives.

I saw a boy writing with a pencil.
In this sentence “writing” denotes what the boy was doing, but it does not affirm anything of the boy. It modifies “boy,” like an adjective.

I saw a letter, written by a boy.
In this sentence “written” is used as a modifier of “letter.” Both of these words are derived from the verb “to write,” and each of them modifies a noun.
They partake both of the properties of the verb and the adjective; i.e. they express action, and they modify nouns.


2. Verbs can act as nouns.

a. Subject nouns

Texting friends during school hours is forbidden.
In this sentence “texting” is used like a noun, as the subject, yet it is modified by an objective element, like a verb.

b. Object nouns

I dislike reading novels.
In this sentence “reading” is used as a noun might be, as an objective element, yet it is modified as though it were a verb.

3. Such verbs are called participles, 

a word which means partaking of.

a. Present participle

Some participles end in –ing; they are called present participles.
as, “I saw a bird flying.” “Flying must be delightful.”

b. Perfect participle

Some participles end in –d, –ed, –t, –n, or –en; they are called perfect participles.
as, “The fish was eaten.

A participle is a word derived from a verb,
and partaking of the properties of a verb and of an adjective or a noun;
The boys are running.
“Running” is a participle, used as a predicate, and its relation to “boys” is affirmed by the copula, “are.” As it takes the copula and the participle together to express action and affirm it, both of which offices are performed by the verb “runs,” the combined expression “are running” is called the verb.


Point out the participles in the following sentences:
  1. A light was seen, shining from afar.
  2. He sent me a shell, picked up on the seashore.
  3. A deer was killed by a man, running at full speed.
  4. The house struck by lightning belonged to Mr. Ellis.
  5. The letter, folded neatly, was put into an envelope.
  6. My photograph, taken twenty years ago, has been lost.
  7. The enemy, driven from the field, rallied at the fort.
  8. My little family were gathered round a charming fire, telling stories of the past and laying schemes for the future.
  9. When we visited our trap, we found a poor hedgehog caught by his forepaw.
  10. The spider spinning his web was an inspiration to Bruce.
  11. The great tree, swaying fearfully, soon yielded to the blast.
  12. The camels, loaded with rich goods, picked their way slowly over the desert.
  13. Just before midnight, we saw the moon rising above the mountains.
  14. When we departed, the sun was seen far above the horizon.
  15. The penny was given willingly, but the pound grudgingly.

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[Key: noun/pronoun     copula (being/linking verb)     verb/participle     object     adjective ]
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