General Writing and Grammar Help/participle phrase

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Question
Dear Ted,

Can you please tell me if both past participles used as adjectives and past participles used as verbs can be used as part of a participle phrase.

Can you also please tell me if a perfect participle can be used as part of a participle phrase.

Thank you


Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

Can you please tell me if both past participles used as adjectives and past
participles used as verbs can be used as part of a participle phrase.

**** Herein lies a problem:  Past participles are NOT verbs.  They cannot be used as verbs.  They derive FROM verbs, but they perform the function of adjectives.

Can you also please tell me if a perfect participle can be used as part of a
participle phrase.

**** There is no such thing as a "perfect participle," Rich.  Only VERBS have "perfect tenses."  If you mean PRESENT PARTICIPLE, then the answer is "Yes."  Present participles can be used or as parts of phrases.

I have a BURNING desire.  ["Burning" is the present participle of the verb "to burn."  In this instance, it is used as an adjective describing the noun [and direct object] "desire."

BURNING RAPIDLY IN THE DRY AIR, the forest fire is consuming many luxury homes.  ["Burning" is still a present participle of "to burn."  It modifies the subject of the sentence "fire."  In this case, however, "burning" introduces its own participle phrase, containing an adverb "rapidly" and an adverbial prepositional phrase telling where [in the dry air].

The entire participle phrase of six words modifies the subject "fire."

Here's a famous example:

Walking across the campus, the tree came into view.

"Walking" is a present participle and "across the campus" is an adverbial prepositional phrase, telling "where."  There is something terribly wrong with the sentence, however, because participle phrases that appear at the beginning of a sentence MUST modify the subject.  Since "trees" cannot "walk," this phrase is an example of a "dangling modifier."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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