Y5’s. Participle clauses & related issues (advanced)

Monica in Y5B asked about participle clauses, so I’m going to write a few posts about this.

Participles clauses are about modifying a name, so they are like adjectives. Before examiners, both in oral and written exams, using them indicates that you have learned/learnt that not only adjectives modify nouns. As you must be guessing now, yes, they’re similar to relative clauses, aka (also known as) adjectival clauses, precisely!

When you think of participles clauses be clear they can be –ing participles (present participles, gerunds) or past participles (participios), e.g. shouting – shouted, writing – written. You also need to consider –ing indicates events happening now/then and the past participle indicates states.

-ing participle clauses are good to bear in mind when you have to describe events you are witnessing or witnessed.

-ing verbs are amazing, as you will probably know by now. Let me tell you about one of their uses. It is an interesting language item in narrations of events we are witnessing, like a cheerful scene /siin/ in a park, a tragic accident, a beautiful demo(nstration), or a destructive tornado! In writing, for instance, this happens when you have to tell a story happening just then, or when you have to write a report as a witness. By the way, remember that these have the ordinary structure of reports (intro, headings) but that instead of a Conclusion you need to give your contact info: Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate in contacting me at…

-ing participles with the verbs of the senses

  • We heard /heerd/ people shouting and then saw an ambulance approaching.
  • I was looking at the children playing in the park, when there was a loud crash and suddenly I heard people calling for help.
  • At the demo, there were people singing, and some others playing drums. I also saw a small group of people performing. But most people were simply marching quietly towards Congress.
  • People sensed the tornado approaching. It was a very powerful experience.

As you can see, the –ing form has a subject (for people who know Latin it is similar to “subordinadas de infinitivo no concertadas” but in this case instead of an infinitive you get a gerund; in English the equivalent to this language item in Latin is the WANT/’D LIKE + SB + TO DO STH), but the most important thing is that it is HAPPENING NOW.

You can also get this kind with past participles, of course, but then it is about a STATE, not an action in progress.

  • After the tornado, you could see roofs torn off. (past participle)
  • Cf. You could see the tornado tearing roofs off. (-ing participle)
  • The tornado was tearing roofs off. (ordinary sentence in the past continuous)

Now please, consider some examples of participle clauses as used in reviews to create complex sentences: Writing Reviews. Let me just jot down here one curious example:

  • Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Julia tells the story of…
  • Starred by Vanessa Redgrave…
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