With your head held/hold high?

swatkaizen

New Member
english
So I know these forms are correct, but I don't know why. Can anyone explain?

:tick: Stand up straight with your head held high.
Why isn't it hold or holding?

:tick: How fast can you run with your hands tied behind your back?

:tick: He is sitting down with his back supported by the wall.

:tick: He sat at his computer with his back facing his guests.
Why isn't this in the past tense like the others?

What part of speech do these verbs represent, and how is tense determined?

Someone from Hong Kong asked me about these forms, and I couldn't explain why. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
-Keith
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Welcome to the forums, Keith. :)

    These are participles - verb forms used as adjectives.

    "with your head held high"
    *This is a past participle because your head is held by you.

    "with your hands tied"
    *Again, past participle because your hands have been tied (by someone) behind your back.

    "with his back supported"
    *Another past participle. The back is supported by the wall.

    "with his back facing"
    *Here, this is a present participle because it is the back that is doing the facing. The back is facing the guests.

    Basically, you can throw in an "is" or "are" (or any other form of the verb "to be") between the noun and the questionable word to figure out whether it should be a present or a past participle.

    Your head is holding? No.
    Your hands are tying? No.
    His back is supporting? No.
    His back is faced? No.

    By the way, present participles end in "-ing" and refer to an action done by the described noun.
    Past participles usually end in "-ed" (some end in "-t," "-en," or other endings) and refer to an action done to the described noun.

    I hope I've helped. Any further questions, let me know.
     

    swatkaizen

    New Member
    english
    Hi Elroy,

    Wow that was fast. Thanks!

    I was thinking about who was acting and what was being acted upon, but I wasn't sure how to explain it. Your test helps quite a bit.

    I thought it might have something to do with special cases for prepositional phrases, but now I'm not even sure if I would call these prepositional phrases or some other type of clause. I tried constructing other examples with other prepositions, but nothing seemed to work.

    For example, to mirror one of the examples above ... How fast can you run [insert some other preposition] [rest of clause/phrase containing a verb in the past participle]?

    So if you have time for a follow up quesitons, what's special about "with" as a preposition in these examples?

    -K
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I don't think anything is special about "with" in these sentences.

    Let's take one of your example sentences:

    Stand up straight with your head held high.

    "With your head held high" is a prepositional phrase, in which "with" is a preposition, "head" is the object of the preposition, "your" is an adjective, and "held high" is a participial phrase functioning as an adjective describing "head." Within that phrase "held" is a participle/adjective and "high" is an adverb. Think of "held high" as a post-positioned adjectival modifier.

    Compare the following:

    I saw the singing boy.
    I saw the boy singing.

    In both cases, "singing" is a participle, but the position varies. Also, the meaning changes slightly.

    Or you can think about it this way: When "with" governs an object whose condition is to be specified using a participial phrase, the phrase usually comes after the object. That's why we say "with your head held high" and not "with your held high head." The word order we use follows the way we logically think. The sentence is essentially saying "Stand up straight, and your head should be held high." "Stand up straight with your held-high head" (if such a sentence were even thinkable) would presuppose that the head is already held high, and that differs in meaning from the original sentence.

    As for other similar grammatical constructions, consider the following:

    How fast can you run on a field covered with snow?
    Could you speak to a woman suffering from cancer?

    There are hundreds of other examples. :)
     

    swatkaizen

    New Member
    english
    Hi Elroy,

    Your last examples really clarified something for me. When the nouns functions as an object receiving the action or is the object of the action (i.e. the verb is passive), I use the past participle. When the noun functions as the subject of the cause, I use the present participle form of the verb.

    In the "field covered", the field is the object being covered by snow.
    In the "woman suffering", the woman is suffering.

    Thanks again. You've made my first post a very pleasant experience.

    -K
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I would be very uncomfortable with the concept of "with his back facing ..."!
    I think 'facing' - when applied to anything which has a face - must apply to the directing the face is pointing.

    How strange do the following sound...
    The bear's back was facing me as I approached it.
    The bear was facing away from me as I approached it.

    The back of the building faced the car-park.
    The back of the building fronted onto the car-park.
    The building backed onto the car-park.

    "with his back to his guests" would sit more comfortably with me.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    swatkaizen said:
    Hi Elroy,

    Your last examples really clarified something for me. When the nouns functions as an object receiving the action or is the object of the action (i.e. the verb is passive), I use the past participle. When the noun functions as the subject of the cause, I use the present participle form of the verb.

    You got it - that's precisely the difference. :)

    Thanks again. You've made my first post a very pleasant experience.

    It was my genuine pleasure. :) I look forward to further interactions in the future.
     
    Top