So that means a participial phrase is a phrase that starts with a verb, and the entire phrase acts like an adjective by modifying a noun or pronoun. Modifiers can add a lot of fun to a sentence or a phrase, so use them right and you can have fascinating sentences! If a participial phrase is required for the reader to understand the meaning of the sentence, then no commas should be used: The athlete practicing the most usually wins the competition. That’s perfect usage of the participial phrase because the participle (verb) immediately follows the noun. This is so important because otherwise it can be unclear what the participial phrase is modifying, confusing your readers and bogging down your writing. Meanwhile, the entire participial phrase describes how Carrie found her notebook. The past participle is irregular this time, because “hung” doesn’t end in –ed like regular past participles. The 10 Most Common Grammar Mistakes and How To Avoid Them, 10 Creative Writing Exercises for Beginners and Writers, 17 Powerful Strategies for Revising Your Writing. The participial phrase doesn’t describe an action that’s happening currently, but it does help us understand why Kelly always has soft hair. You should also watch out for what’s called a dangling modifier. This can confuse people, but it can also create some pretty funny misunderstandings and the sentence doesn’t make logical sense. Participle Phrases. If you wanted to improve the sentence and the use of the participial phrase so that it sounds more natural in this case, you could write: Sally took her shoes off, drained from a long day at work. But in a paragraph like the following, ask yourself how much of the information delivered through the participial phrases is necessary to the narrative. Sally took off her shoes, drained from the long day at work. Here’s how to correctly punctuate sentences with participial phrases: If the participial phrase precedes the main clause, use a comma after the participial phrase. Jean knew she had to warn the men working on the electrical lines. Participial phrases must be separated by a comma if the participle is the first word of the sentence, such as in the sentence, “Torn at the seams, his coat had seen better days.”. So sometimes participial phrases will use nouns to clear up a situation or give more detail. Now our participial phrase is “framed and hung” and we get information about the subject: the painting. That makes “Fond of brushing her hair” a participial phrase. However, writing the participial this phrase may get awkward sometimes, so you’ll have to make a judgment call about where to place the participial phrase based. They can be lots of different kinds of words—like adjectives, adverbs, or even participles—as long as they modify a noun. Note: Both sentences are correct here. Good stuff for people teaching English to foreign students. A participle is formed from a verb, but it acts as a noun or an adjective. Here’s an example of a participial phrase from earlier that’s probably a bit too far from the noun it’s modifying: Notice how “drained from a long day at work” is a participial phrase modifying the noun “Sally.” The problem is, it comes right after the noun shoes, which could confuse your readers. Instead of a glass a milk, it seems like someone is pouring a glass of something called “milk Amanda concentrated.”. I guarantee that you’ve used participle phrases before and not even realized you were doing it! Now we can clearly see that the water is what’s dripping, not Connor. Continue using writers’ terminology. It’s not clear what’s blinking, or why it’s blinking. Participial phrases start with present or past participle. With the verb “to smile,” we get a present participle of smiling. Here, the phrase “brimming with garbage” tells us about the trash can, a noun. Also, remember that a participial phrase describes a subject (usually a noun!) Some participles will just make more sense with a noun. They’re often used in pieces that need to tell readers a lot in a few words, like newspaper articles or even fiction books. Participles or participial phrases placed in the middle of a sentence must be separated with commas only when the information is NOT essential to the meaning of the sentence. In the opening paragraph of this post, the following are participle phrases: Rushing to her computer; Rooting through her desk drawers; Little Debbie, staring out the window, didn’t know what the answer was. The main clause of the sentence describes the action going on. Participial phrases can come at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a sentence. Modifiers add more detail to a phrase, so they can be used in participial phrases to describe more of the situation. In some cases, like participial phrases, adding a noun can bring more detail to a sentence. The participial phrase “blinking in the dark” describes a noun, the phone. Make sure to read over the sentence to see how the phrase acts within the entire sentence. Look at these examples to see how participle clauses are used. Gerunds and participial phrases can sometimes be the exact same words, but they have very different functions. There’s a participle in every participial phrase, so it’s important you understand how to use them. Your email address will not be published. The nouns aren’t always necessary, and you should be able to feel it out through context. You have to use commas correctly with participles based on where they appear in a sentence. Now the same phrase is a participial phrase! Or is it. Bob reached for the cereal box stored in the back of the cupboard. Also, if we take out the participial phrase, the sentence still makes sense. Simply put, a participle is a verb that functions as an adjective in a sentence. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I avoided the question. Gerunds are verb phrases that act as nouns, but participial phrases act as adjectives. What punctuation is used to set a participial phrase off from the main clause of a sentence? They can also be the names of specific people or places. When you start a sentence with a participial phrase, you’ll need to use commas to set it apart from the main clause. That makes “brimming with garbage” another participial phrase! A participial phrase is a phrase that looks like a verb, but actually functions as an adjective; it modifies a noun in the same sentence. Here’s what you shouldn’t do with your participial phrases. The dishwasher was invented in 1889. In this sentence, “turning the light on” is a gerund. In order to better yourself as both a writer and verbal communicator, always remember to take some time to improve your understanding of the English language, as your command of language is your one and only weapon in the war against obscurity and incoherency. Avoid confusing them by checking for signs that a phrase is a gerund or a participial phrase. A participial phrase is a phrase that starts with a participle (verb) and includes modifiers, objects, and/or complements. If you can take the phrase out and still have a complete sentence, you’re probably dealing with a participial phrase. So that means a participial phrase is a phrase that starts with a verb, and the entire phrase acts like an adjective by modifying a noun or pronoun. Common nouns are words like dog, book, or computer. Picking out the participle in a participial phrase is actually pretty easy, because participles stick out once you figure out how they work. The participial phrase A participial phrase begins with a past or present participle and is fol- lowed by its objects and modifiers. Most often, separate them from the main clause with a comma. Modifiers are used all the time to make a sentence more interesting and give us more information. The participle in a participial phrase can be either the present participle or the past participle. A participial phrase sometimes uses a noun, depending on the participle. The participial phrase in this sentence is "dangling from her shoe". It’s important to link your participial phrase to the right noun, so that your sentences don’t get too hard to understand. The participle “blinking” might make sense on its own in another sentence, but in this sentence the noun “dark” gives us a better sense of what’s going on. If you liked this post, here are some other articles you might love: Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author.