Word forms, word usage, sentence structure, comma use, adjectives, descriptive phrases, verbs, and writer’s technique
Participle: a “verb” in its “ing” (or “ed” or “en”) form often attached to the beginning or ending of a sentence.
Sentence: The dog approached me.
With participle: Growling, the dog approached me.
Growling fiercely, the dog approached me.
The dog approached me, growling.
The dog approached me, growling fiercely.
Growling, snapping, and lunging, the dog approached me.
Though participles are based on “verbs” they really work as “adjectives” in a sentence. (They modify a noun.) Thus, they can be inserted anywhere in a sentence
before or after the noun it describes.
The dog, snapping and lunging, blocked my exit.
The dog, growling fiercely, blocked my exit.
Growling fiercely, baring and snapping its yellow fangs, the gaunt dog blocked my exit. (The word “gaunt” means “skinny” or “thin
Notice how commas are used to “set off” the participles or participle phrases.
Where do you think the participle constructions work best: at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence?
Use participles or participle phrases to add more detail or drama to simple sentences. Make up your own simple sentences or use the ones below.
The rooster woke the village.
The car sped past me.
Stars began to appear in the sky.
My love turned and walked away.
More practice with participles
Harry Noden in his book “Image Grammar” calls “the participle” one of the five basic brush strokes in the writer’s palette. A participle is a verb transformed into
an adjective by adding an “ing” (present tense) or “ed” (past tense) ending. A participle is an adjective because it describes a noun or noun phrase, but since a
participle is based on a verb form, it adds more action to a scene.
Use participles or participle phrases to add more action and drama to simple sentences. Make up your own simple sentences or use the ones below.
The girl gazed at the heaping platter.
Shuddering and retching, the girl gazed at the heaping platter.
Hopping up and down with anticipation, the girl gazed at the heaping platter.
The bird squawked loudly.
Flapping its wings, the bird squawked loudly.
His face began to droop.
Trembling, his face began to droop.
Clouds covered the sun.
Trees lined the avenue.
The teacher tried to get attention.
She arrived ten minutes late.
George W. Bush addressed the crowd.