participles

participles
participles
1. There are two kinds of participle in English: the present participle ending in -ing as in We are going, and the past participle ending in -d or -ed for many verbs and in -t or -en or some other form for others, as in Have you decided? / New houses are being built / It's not broken.
2. Participles are often used to introduce subordinate clauses that are attached to other words in a sentence, e.g. Her mother, opening the door quietly, came into the room / Hearing a noise I went out to look / Born in Rochdale, he spent most of his life in the area. Participles in initial position, as in the last two examples, are acceptable grammatically but when overdone can produce a poor style, especially when the participial clause bears little relation to the main one: Being blind from birth, she became a teacher and travelled widely.
3. A worse stylistic flaw occurs with so-called ‘unattached’, ‘misrelated’, or ‘dangling’ participles, when the participle does not refer to the noun to which it is grammatically attached, normally the subject of the sentence: Recently converted into apartments, I passed by the house where I grew up. (No one will imagine that the speaker had been converted into apartments, but that is what the grammatical structure suggests, producing poor style.) Some examples of unattached participles follow:

Being a vegan bisexual who's into Nicaraguan coffee picking and boiler suits, you could safely assume that I vote Labour —Private Eye, 1988

Driving near home recently, a thick pall of smoke turned out to be a bungalow well alight —Oxford Times, 1990.

In sum, unattached participles seldom cause real ambiguity, but they jar and can distract the reader, and are to be avoided.
4. Certain participles, such as considering, assuming, excepting, given, provided, seeing, speaking (of), etc., have acquired the status of prepositions or conjunctions, and their use in a grammatically free role is well established:

• ‘Speaking of money,’ said Beryl, ‘do you mind my asking what you did with yours?’ —A. Munro, 1987.

Recent additions to the list are the semi-floating forms that said and having said that:

• We're just one big happy family. But having said that, it's a family unlike your family because I don't pretend to be something I'm not —X-Press Online, AusE 2004 [OEC].

See further at say 3.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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