Participles A participle is a form of the verb, but it functions as an adjective. A participle, like your basic adjective, answers the question which one?, what kind?, or how many?
Why aren’t squirming tapeworms digested in the intestines? Even though squirming is a verb form, it actually answers the question what kind? (about the noun tapeworms.) Since squirming is a verb form that functions as an adjective, it’s a participle.
There are two types of participles, present and past. Present participle – generally ends in ed, but, some irregular ones exist like (shaken, broken, paid) Jane complained, “ My misguided accountant advised me to invest in sock; but, darn it, the sock sector unraveled, and my stinking stock flopped.”
Another example The badly shaken spiders scurried from the worn shoe when they saw five humongous, wiggling toes descending upon them. Both shaken and worn are irregular past participles. Each is a form of a verb (shake, wear), but neither has the typical ed ending. Wiggling is a present participle that describes toes. A present participle is always regular ending with in ing.
A participle by itself can’t be the verb of the sentence. To function as a verb, a participle must be accompanied by a helping verb. Howie is snorting like a chortling pig. Snorting is part of the verb, is snorting. Is snorting is the main verb of the sentence. Chortling is a participle that describes pig.
Participle Phrases Like a participle, a participle phrase acts like an adjective to modify a noun or pronoun. Wearing a sheet with eyeholes, little Manfred went trick-or-treating as a mattress.
Beware… Remember a participle phrase can come at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, but the phrase should be close to the word or words it modifies. Otherwise, you create a dangling modifier.
Wrong: Dressed in high heels and a tight black dress, Bubba escorted Edna into the theater. Right: Bubba escorted Edna, dressed in high heels and a tight black dress, into the theater.
Wrong: Swimming in the aquarium, Peabody observed the octopus. Right: Peabody observed the octopus swimming in the aquarium.
Gerunds…WHAT????? Like a participle, a gerund is a form of a verb. Don’t be fooled, though. It actually functions as a noun in the sentence. Gerunds like some participles, end in ing. The difference between a gerund and a participle is simply the way each is used in a sentence. A participle functions as an adjective – a gerund functions as a noun.
Examples Gerund: Drooling is rude. Drooling is a gerund because it’s used as a noun, the subject of the sentence. Participle: Drooling and spitting, the baby reached for the fuzzy stuffed guppy. Drooling is used as an adjective to describe the noun baby. Spitting, likewise, is used as an adjective to describe baby. Verb Phrase: The baby is drooling in to the mashed carrots. In this case, drooling is not a gerund or participle. It’s part of the verb phrase is drooling. Is drooling is the main verb of the sentence.
Gerund Phrases A gerund phrase consists of a gerund and all of its complements and modifiers. Gerund: Walking is good for your health. Gerund Phrase: Walking across a busy freeway, can be harmful to your health.
Another… A gerund or a gerund phrase is used in the same position that a noun is used in a sentence. Like a noun, a gerund or gerund phrase might function as a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, or predicate nominative. Subject: Sitting on burning ashes causes rashes and hot flashes. Direct Object: The judge forbids snoozing, sneezing, and snoring in his courtroom.
Object of the preposition: Rhonda won first place in the rodeo for riding a rodent. Predicate nominative: Wakefield’s favorite hobby is photographing fruitcakes.
Infinitives An infinitive generally consists of the word to followed by a verb: to giggle, to wiggle, to hobble, to gobble, etc.
Beware… It’s easy to mistake a prepositional phrase beginning with to for an infinitive. Here’s a valuable piece of information: to followed by a noun or pronoun is a prepositional phrase, and to followed by a verb form is an infinitive.
Examples Infinitive: The muscular mice threw dice to scare away the advancing lice. Prepositional Phrase: The unusually fit lice tossed the dice back to the surprised mice.
An infinitive an function as a noun, adjective, or adverb within a sentence. Noun: To belch is rude. (subject) Truman tried to belch. (direct object) Figaro’s favorite activity is to belch. (predicate nominative) Adjective: Molly made the decision to belch. (To belch modifies the noun decision) Adverb: Hogs are happy to belch. (To belch modifies the adjective, happy) Patsy politely left the party to belch. (to belch answers the question why? About the verb left.
An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive plus all of it modifiers and complements. To ride a roller coaster with a rhinoceros is risky. The infinitive phrase is acting as a noun. It’s the subject of the sentence. Notice that the entire phrase includes the infinitive to ride, its complement, a roller coaster, and a prepositional phrase, with a rhinoceros.
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a feisty ferret. The infinitive phrase, to fetch a feisty ferret, acts as an adverb that answers the question why? and the verb went.
To avoid calling attention to himself, Rutherford sometimes wears a paper sack over his head.