Non-finite English verb forms: Participle I

July 7th, 20123:04 pm


Non-finite English verb forms: Participle I

Participle I is a non-finite form of the verb which combines the prop­erties of the verb with those of the adjective and the adverb. It denotes a quality resulting from an action. The form of Participle I is wholly homony­mous with the Gerund, ending in the suffix -ing and distinguishing the same grammatical categories of relative tense and voice. The term “present Parti­ciple” is used sometimes with the reference to Participle I, as well as “past Participle” with reference to Participle II, though the attributes “present” and “past” are forced by tradition. Participle 1 is characterized by what has been defined as relative tense, i.e. the form of Participle I is determined by posteriority, simultaneity or anteriority of actions expressed by the finite verb and Participle I in the sentence.

Participle I functions in the attributive and adverbial positions. Partici­ple I used attributively may occur in a pre-position if it does not comprise a participial construction, i.e. if it has no dependent sentence parts. The com­bination of verbal and adjectival properties makes Participle I similar to adjectives:

“Yes, it s a gorgeous home,she said thinking of their own cosy but creak­ing, and fragile wooden box, possible for entertaining only if they removed the sliding screens and threw all three downstairs rooms into one. (King)

I’m afraid there was no abiding joy to he drawn from my wallet. (Durrell)

If Participle I is the nucleus of a participial construction performing the attributive function, it is always placed in a postposition:

This new exciting love coming to him now in his early fifties had trans­formed his life. (Cary)

Despite airline regulations prohibiting the use of cell phones during flights. Aringarosa knew this was a call he could not miss. (Brown)

Sometimes Participle I is used as a predicative:

The corridor’s width, which easily could have accommodated a pair of side-by-side passenger trains, was equally amazing. (Brown)

Some scholars believe that Participle I may completely transform into the adjective (a caring mother, it is amazing). Semantically, adjectival prop­erties of Participle I do come to the fore in these sentences. However this does not mean that the semantic criterion should be viewed as principal for the classification. The forms in question are participles, since there are verbs to care and to amaze. And vice versa, the forms heartbreaking, breathtak­ing, etc. are adjectives, for there are no such verbs as to *heartbreak, to *breathtake, etc.

As it has already been mentioned, Participle I may occur as an adverbial modifier. All forms of the participial paradigm occur in this function. It is particularly typical of analytical forms of Participle I. The difference be­tween the paradigmatic forms lies in that the simple form denotes simulta­neity between the action expressed by Participle and the action of the predi­cate, whereas the perfect form means posteriority:

On the either side of the gallery, stark walls rose thirty feet, evaporating into the darkness above. (Brown)

Having squeezed beneath the security gate, Robert Langdon now stood just inside the entrance to the Grand Gallery. (Brown)

The adverbial Participle is usually interpreted as a property of the sub­ject of the sentence. However, one cannot but mention a so-called Absolute Participial Construction. This construction contains its own semantic subject. Absolute Participial Constructions perform the function of adverbial modifiers of attendant circumstances or cause:

The bell being out of order I rapped with my gamp. (Durrell) (adverbial modifier of cause)

“It s a pentacle, Langdon offered, his voice feeling hollow in the huge space. (Brown) (adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances)

The same correlation is observed in the complex object: the semantic subject of Participle I is the first component of the complex object:

Through the gate, they could hear someone moving around at the far end of the corridor(Brown)