What are Participles?


Hang tight, because this one can get a little convoluted (but it’s important!).

Participles of verbs usually introduce subordinate clauses, and are used as a way to give extra information about the main part of the sentence (or main clause—the “point”). The participle describes an action carried out by the subject of the main clause. Sound confusing? Here’s an example:

“Peter, slowly tiptoeing down the hall, successfully snuck past his parents’ door.”

Here, the present participle (tiptoeing) is referring to the subject in the main clause (the fact that Peter snuck past his parents’ door).

Sometimes, however, we forget this rule and dangle the participle—meaning it doesn’t properly refer to the subject of the sentence. Doing this is grammatically incorrect. Here’s an example:

“Traveling to Morocco, the weather got hotter and hotter.”

If you were to read this literally (and follow participle use rules), this sentence would be saying that the weather is traveling to Morocco. Of course not! If the sentence were reworded to have to the participle referring to the subject, it would make more sense. For example:

“Traveling to Morocco, I found that the weather got hotter and hotter.”

We hope this helps you better understand participles and their use! As always, keep writing–and read, read, read to help improve your grammar skills!

This post was written by Inspira’s Managing Editor, Heather Sipes.

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