Adjectives - the use of verb participle

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Alessandro Nesta, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. Alessandro Nesta New Member

    Spanish, Mexico
    Hi you guys! I hope you can answer my question, I’m really confused and wondering how adjective rules work.

    The rules say: Adjectives go before nouns and after of verb be, and we can use them to describe nouns (colour, shape, etc)

    For example:
    “Maria has a nice hair” Adjective: Nice
    “The blue house is where I live” Adjective: Blue
    In this case the rule of adjective+noun applies to.

    “John was very interested in learning more about elephants” Adjective: interested
    “John’s elephant report was interesting to read” Adjective: interesting
    In this case the rule of be+adjective applies to.

    Nevertheless I was reading a grammar book yesterday and I found this:

    These adjectives are often used in phrases to describe nouns. They come after the noun and they are called verb participles (present participles and past participles)

    The women sitting in the room wanted to talk to Mr. Thayer.
    The patients given the new medicine quickly felt better.

    I guess that the adjective of these two sentences are sitting and given because they are describing nouns. My question is “The women sitting in the room...” means the same to “The women were sitting in the room...”? or “The patients given the new medicine…” means the same to “The patients that they have given the new medicine...” ?. If it is not, could you explain me what’s the difference? The uses of these verb participles are habitual?

    Thanks in advance

    He who opens a school door, closes a prison.
    Victor Hugo
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I am not the right person to give you a full grammatical reply, but at the moment I am concerned about your grammar book. In the two examples you quote, I would not consider the participle to be performing as an adjective. Those look to me like quite normal ellipsis of the words I have placed in parentheses:
    The women (who were) sitting in the room wanted to talk to Mr. Thayer.
    The patients (who had been) given the new medicine quickly felt better.

    You couldn't for example, change the word order in those sentences to refer to "sitting women" or "given patients".

    Participles are often used as adjectives, but I don't think those are good examples.

    He was shooting at a sitting target.
    The sitting magistrate committed the soldier for trial.

    We need to calculate how much water is required to dissolve a given weight of salt.
    Maisie Lennox, for that was her given name, was my cousin.

    (PS - You need comments from someone who really understands grammar :))
  3. Alessandro Nesta New Member

    Spanish, Mexico
    I thank you for your answer. I'm concerned too about this grammar book, but in a webpage I found more information with regard to the usage of participles as Adjectives, nonetheless this topic gets me confused.

    The webpage says:

    Verb Participles - When to use them

    These adjectives are often used in phrases to describe nouns. They come after the noun.

    The people listening to the lecture were bored.
    The car stolen from the parking lot was recovered in Los Angeles.

    present participles are used to describe what the noun is doing. (active)
    past participles are used to describe what happens to the noun. (passive)

    According to this rule, listening and stolen words act as a adjective (I still don't know why).

    Thanks for your replies in advance
  4. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    You are asking good questions.

    Since participles are part-verb they can have the same objects or prepositional phrases (to the lecture; in the room) as the verbs from which they were formed. Then they form participial phrases that act as adjectives. These participial phrases often follow the nouns they describe.

    The child sings a song.

    The singing child brightens my day.

    The child singing a song brightens my day.
    Sometimes the phrase begins the sentence,

    Singing a song, the child went to feed her cat. ​

    Panjandrum's idea that these are elided relative clauses makes sense when you look at the phrases that follow the nouns. From the point of view of grammar books, however, relative clauses and participial phrases are two distinct constructions that may have overlapping uses. The participial phrases that preceed the noun they describe seem to me to illustrate this.

    Here is a webpage that discusses participles and their uses; you may have seen it already.
  5. Alessandro Nesta New Member

    Spanish, Mexico
    Thanks Cagey and Pajandrum

    After working hard, I finally understood how participial phrases work. I really appreciate your suggestion of visiting the link that you recommeded. It was very helpful.

    you really caught the sense of my question.

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