"given" that the birth rate

Alison 88

Taiwan - Chinese
"Moreover, given that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking, the number of young people going to college will decrease in the years ahead. It is urgent that the relevant authorities take steps in reaction to this trend."

What is the function of the verb "given"?
Is it a past participle?
Which does it modify?

Thanks a lot.
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ... given that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking, ...
    ... it is given that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking, ...
    ... the fact that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking is given, ...
    ... as we all know, it has been established that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking, ...

    banana pancakes

    Senior Member
    'given' in this sense, means 'because' or 'as'.

    'because/as the birth rate...'

    Sorry I can't give you grammatical reasoning, past participles and modifiers are a bit beyond me.


    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "given that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking," is an "absolute phrase," (q.v.) consisting of the past participle "given" followed by the noun clause "that the birth rate has been steadily shrinking," which is the object of the verbal function of the participle. It is called "absolute" because it is only loosely tied—by logic perhaps, but not by grammatical subordination—to the rest of the sentence.
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    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    And to correct a suggestion made above, "given" is not a preposition.

    I won't pretend to be a grammar expert, or even to understand cyberpedant's explanation. My first thought was that it was the past participle, but of the definitions I found in Oxford, the preposition seemed the most likely. However, I am prepared to bow to greater wisdom and having looked again I see that it could be the past participle. In the quoted sentence it means something along the lines of "accepting as a fact".
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    Senior Member
    British English
    It is as though, at some point in the past, the speaker was given a document containing some facts. They are now making a statement from that prior knowledge gained, reinforcing a past element.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Both the Longman dictionary and Encarta parse ‘given’ as a preposition when used as in the title of the thread. The definition is as has already been stated.

    Alison 88

    Taiwan - Chinese
    Thank you all so much.

    I found the definition of "given" in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

    given (KNOWING)
    knowing about or considering a particular thing:
    Given his age, he's a remarkably fast runner.
    Given (the fact) that a prospective student is bombarded by prospectuses, selecting a suitable course is not easy.


    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I agree with those who classify it as a preposition. Yes, it is usually a past participle, but in this sentence it is not functioning as one, but as a preposition. There are a number of words that work like that (normally participles, but prepositions in certain contexts).


    Considering the word's function in the sentence, it should be classified as a preposition.