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1. Gerund and Participial

Unlike Verb as a Part of Speech which must have a Subject, a Verbal though derived from Verb, doesn’t carry any Subject. Therefore rules of Subject-Verb agreement do not apply in absence of Subject. Whereas a verb has to be part of a Clause, a verbal can only be part of a Phrase. Such phrases are also called Non-finite Clause when reduced from a Clause. Verbals are of three types: Gerund, Participial, and Infinitive.


Gerund

When -ing form of a verb (root verb + ing) is used it is called Gerund. This is not to be confused with present continuous tense which takes a subject or with - ing Participial which is either an adjective or Advebial. A Gerund can function as Noun and like a verb it can also take object and adverbial preposition. As a Noun, Gerund functions assubject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition.

  1. Swimming is a good exercise for improving stamina and fitness.[ Gerund As Subject]

  2. We enjoyed cycling on empty roads, early in the morning. [Gerund as Direct object][Certain main verbs like ‘enjoy’ such as admit, suggest, like, hate, start, dislike, begin, avoid, finish are called catenative verbs which can take -ing verbs following it immediately, as direct objects]

  3. My daughter’s favourite hobby is drawing and sketching. [Gerund as Subject Complement -predicate nominative]

  4. Traffic police issued me ticket for speeding which is a traffic offence. [Object of preposition ‘for’]

  5. He likes taking bath under shower. [Notice that the noun phrase following the gerund is an object of gerund.]

  6. Artist Shirish Deshpande specialises in painting with ballpoint. [Notice the adverbial preposition which follows the Gerund.]

  7. Deshpande’s specialization is painting with ballpoint. [Here gerund is subject complement which one may confuse with present continuous verb followed by the auxiliary.]

Participial Adjective

A participle is a verbal that is used as an Adjective and Adverbial. A verb + ing is called Present Participial. Verbs ending with -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n as in the words helped, beaten, dealt, seen, and gone. are known as Past Participial. Participials are used to shorten sentences. They are not to be confused with tense.


As Attributive Adjective

(when relative clause is in active voice and without any prepositional adverbial)

a) The baby who was crying wanted mother’s milk.

= The crying baby wanted mother’s milk.[Participles are used before noun]

b) The window that was broken has been replaced.

= The broken window has been replaced.

c) The candidate who was elected is very popular.

=The elected candidate is very popular.

d) The dilapidated house was razed to ground.

e) The burning charcoal fell on my leg.


As post-modifier adjective of noun

(when relative clause is with Prepositional adverb or a Passive construction)

a)The tiger, which was born in captivity, was released into a restricted area of the jungle.

>The tiger, born in captivity, was released into a restricted area of the jungle.

b)The window that was broken by the ball has been replaced.

>The window broken by the ball has been replaced.

c)The candidate who was elected as president is very popular.

>The candidate elected as president is very popular.

d)The man who lives beside my house is the President of RWA.

> The man living beside my house is the President of RWA.

e)The girl living next door will get married next month.

f) The books kept on the uppermost shelf are classics.

A participial phrase after the noun and in middle of a sentence may be essential or non- essential. A Non-essential phrase is placed within commas.

g) The guests who are reaching tomorrow will be allotted rooms on the first floor.

[essential phrase, no comma]

>The guests reaching tomorrow will be allotted rooms on the first floor. [essential phrase, no comma]

h) Guests, who were exhausted due to long travel, retired early after dinner.

[non-essential clause within commas]

> Guests, exhausted due to long travel, retired early after dinner. [non-essential phrase within commas]

When post modifier adjective phrase is long, it is normally placed at the end after a comma. This an advantage of reduced participial phrase over Relative Adjective Clause.

i) The state minister, who was worried about the worsening flood situation, demanded larger supply of relief material.

> The state minister demanded larger supply of relief material, worrying about the worsening flood situation.

j) Kumar, who was being cheered thunderously by the ecstatic crowd, continued with the performance well beyond the time.

> Kumar continued with the performance well beyond the time, being cheered thunderously by the ecstatic crowd.

The modifying phrase must be nearest to the noun it modifies. Otherwise it will be understood to modify any other noun which is closer. Such mistakes arise because of misplaced adjective phrase.

k)The spy, who pretended to read newspaper, kept a watch over her from a distance, through a hole in the paper.

> Incorrect: The spy kept a watch on her from a distance pretending to read a newspaper, through a hole in it. [means she is pretending to read a newspaper]

> Correct: The spy, pretending to read a newspaper, kept a watch on her from a distance, through a hole in the newspaper.


As Predicate Adjective Participle

  • The movie was very thrilling to watch. = It was very thrilling to watch the movie.

  • This article was very interesting to read. = It was very interesting to read this article.

  • Some investors are interested in exploring the viability from the angle of statutory encumbrances.

As Adverbial Participle

Participial phrases, can replace prepositional adverbials and subordinate clause after various conjunctions , such as: when, while, so, before, because, since, if, after etc. These participial phrases function as adverbial as they provide condition, reason, cause, result or time for the main clause. Use of participial as Adverbial shortens the sentence comprising of two clauses, by allowing only one subject to govern the sentence, instead of two. Sentences start with Participial Adverbs when the subordinate clause is to be emphasised.


A. Participial Adverbs must have only one subject and therefore cannot convert two clauses to one clause if subjects are different unless subject is made the same by suitable modification.

a) I took a diversion since Google map alerted a traffic jam ahead.

[This sentence has two different subjects – I and Google]

= Alerted by Google map about a traffic jam ahead, I took a diversion.

[Same subject ‘I’, because of passive construction]

b) The bank returned the jewellery I had pawned after I repaid the last instalment of loan with interest. [This sentence has two subjects, ‘I’ and ‘bank’]

= Having received the last instalment of loan with interest, the bank returned the jewellery I had pawned.

[This sentence has one subject ‘bank’, made possible by using receive’ in place of ‘repay’]

= Upon receiving the last instalment of loan with interest, the bank returned the jewellery I had pawned.

c) Because I had taken the wrong bus, the conductor allowed me to get down at the next stop without charging.

Having taken the wrong bus, the conductor allowed me to get down at the next stop without charging. [Wrong since conductor is not the subject being referred.]

= Convinced that I was not bluffing about riding a wrong bus by mistake, the conductor allowed..... [Correct since conductor is the right subject in this sentence who was convinced and who allowed]

d)Having taken the wrong bus, I had to get down at the next stop.

[Because I had taken...]

e) Sleep evaded me since I was frustrated and dejected.

[There are 2 subjects – ‘sleep’ and ‘I’]

≠ Frustrated and dejected, sleep evaded me.[incorrect, since it means ‘sleep is frustrated and dejected’.]

= Frustrated and dejected, I didn’t get sleep. [Single Subject]

f) Titles of the books are not visible since the books are kept on the uppermost shelf. [2 subjects: book and title]

Kept on the uppermost shelf, titles of the books are not visible. [‘title’ is not the subject of the sentence; hence incorrect]

= Kept on the uppermost shelf, the books are difficult to identify by title. [Correct: single subject ‘book’]


B. As an exception to the ‘subject rule’ above, the participle can also refer to the object of main clause which is same as subject of the dependent clause when using participle clauses with the verbs ‘see, hear, feel, watch, notice, listen, find, smell’’. This called ‘object raising’ where object of one clause is raised to function as subject of another clause.

  • My uncle noticed me smoking with my friends (= when I was smoking with my friends).[In this case subjects are different: uncle and I but object of main clause is same as subject of subordinate clause]

  • I heard him (when he was) complaining against you.

  • Am I smelling something (that is) burning?

  • I could feel the energy (which flowed) flowing to my pain points.

  • We watched the planes (as they were) landing.

C. ‘Having been’ can mean ‘who was’ and also ‘because/since’. Participial Adverbial Phrases with ‘being’, ‘having been’ , ‘having + past participle’ or just ‘past participle’ are used to replace subordinates with conjunction ‘since/because’ ‘after’, ‘if’ etc denoting adverbials of time, reason, condition, result/consequence etc. ‘Past Participle’ is used for passive.

a)The security head who is an ex-army knows the importance of discipline and protocol.

= The security guard being an ex-Army knows the importance of discipline and protocol.

b)The security head who was in Army knows the importance of discipline and protocol.

= Having been in Army, the security head knows the importance of discipline and protocol. {can also mean ‘since’]

c)Being exhausted due to long travel, guests have retired early after dinner.

= [Because guests are exhausted ...]

d)Having been exhausted due to long travel, guests retired early after dinner.

= [Because guests were exhausted ...]

e) After I had consulted the seniors, I decided to reject the offer.

= Having consulted the seniors, I decided to reject the offer.

= After having consulted the seniors, I decided to reject the offer.

= After consulting the seniors, I decided to reject the offer.

f) Having been denied ticket to contest, he changed party.

[ Can mean both ‘after’ and ‘because/since’]

g)This will last long if you service it regularly as per schedule.

= This will last long if serviced regularly......

= Serviced regularly as per schedule, this will last long.


D. Participle Adverbs can also replace subordinates with conjunctions AFTER, WHILE, SINCE, WHEN with - ­ing participle. Prepositions like BY and WITH can be suppressed when followed by - ­ing participle, if a sentence starts with these prepositions. One has to depend upon semantics or context to judge whether the meaning is best explained by after, while, since, or when in case of Participial Adverb with –ing participle. In case of lack of clarity it is advisable to avoid using –ing participle as adverbial in the starting of a sentence.

a)Sensing an opportunity she volunteered to participate. [Because she sensed an ....]

b)Seeing an old lady in distress she stopped to inquire. [When she saw an old...]

c)Seeing the condition of the car I felt the price quoted was high.

[Can mean both ‘after/ when I saw..’]

d)Walking on the beach I got sunburned. [Can mean both ‘while’ and ‘because’]

e)With a smile, she hugged her child, who was panting, with the trophy in hand.

= Smiling[1], she hugged her panting[2] child with the trophy in hand.

[1: Adverbial participle; 2: Adjective participle]

f)I found that the bus had just left after I reached the bus stop by running.

= Reaching at the bus stop running, I found that the bus had just left.

g)Wearing the swimming gear, Pranav dived into the pool. [After wearing ...]

h)Listening to his lecture one feels so energised and motivated.

[Can mean both ‘by/after listening’]

i)Listening to the lecture I decided to take the plunge. [After listening ...]


E. Following examples are cases of reduced adverb clause with participle of main verb without subject and auxiliary verb after the conjunction. Conjunctions according to modern grammar are ‘clause prepositions’ which behave as ordinary preposition when clause is reduced to phrase except for cases like ‘because’ which becomes ‘because of’ when clause is reduced. As such the verbal after conjunction or preposition are to be treated as Gerund instead of Participle in –ing form. One general rule in case of verb-ing is that when used after a preposition or conjunction, it is a Gerund and not an Adverbial participle.

  1. Gerund: The prosecution proved the charge by providing irrefutable evidence.

  2. Adverbial Participle: Providing hard evidence, the prosecution nailed the defendant.

  3. Gerund: While walking on the beach during low tide, I collected these shells of interesting shapes.

  4. Adverbial Participle: Walking on the beach during low tide, I collected these shells of interesting shapes.

  5. Remember to carry raincoat with you when leaving (= when you leave) the house.

  6. I sprained my ankle while playing ( = while I was playing) tennis.

  7. Before crossing (= Before you cross) the border,you must present Covid-negative test report.

  8. After taking (= After I took ) pain killer, the pain has subsided considerably.

  9. After having collected data and studying them (= we collected data and studied them), we decided to alter the process.

  10. On hearing (= When we heard) that the minister would visit next week, an urgent meeting was convened.

F. Sometimes it is a common mistake to miss out the TRUE subject and instead use a false subject. This is a mistake of Dangling Adverbial without a subject.

≠ Having eaten hostel food for months it was a delight to see so many delicious homemade dishes. [incorrect]

= Having eaten hostel food for months I was delighted to see so many delicious homemade dishes.

G. Sometimes it is a common mistake to misplace the subject and not place it immediately after the Participle Adverbial. In such a case the adverbial takes the closest noun as subject.

Since the car was repaired the day before, I could lend the car to my friend for hospitalisation of his father.

≠ Having been repaired the day before, I could lend my friend the car for his father’s hospitalization. [Incorrect: It means ‘I’ was repaired the day before]

= Having been repaired the day before, the car was of help to my friend for his father’s hospitalization. [correct: the only subject ‘car’ which was repaired, was also of help.]


Note 1:

It is easy to get confused between verb, gerund, participle adjective, and participle adverbial. Following note may help in identifying them correctly.

  1. Gerund can either be a noun or a noun phrase containing gerund followed by an object (like a verb with direct object). As a noun phrase it can be any part of a clause where function of noun is allowed. Gerund has no restrictions on the number of subjects in a sentence. Confusion regarding gerund, verb and participle can arise only in case of the –ing form.

  2. Participle Adjective always modifies some noun, which must be closest to the modifier.

  3. With an Adverbial Participle, a sentence can have only one subject and that subject must not only refer to the adverbial but also be juxtaposed to it. Adverbial is not a modifier but a sentence Adverb and therefore placed at the beginning of a sentence. In case of alternate construction the Adverbial becomes part of subordinate clause.

  4. A sentence can start with a Verbal phase for emphasis on the verb. Such a phrase is followed by a ‘be’ verb further followed by a clause.

Examples:

a) The man who is the President of RWA lives beside my house.

= Living beside my house is the man who is the President of RWA.

b) Living next to her parents the daughter is of great support to them. [Participle Adverbial]

= The daughter is of great support to her parents since she lives next to them.

c) The books kept on the uppermost shelf are classics. [Participial Adjective Phrase]

d) The books which are classics are kept on the uppermost shelf.

= Kept on the uppermost shelf are the books which are classic.

[Verbal Phrase followed by auxiliary for emphasis]

e) Kept on the uppermost shelf, the books are difficult to identify by title.

[Participle Adverbial]

= Titles of the books are not visible since the books are kept on the uppermost shelf.

f) Arranging the books by genre he made the bookshelf more organised.

[Participle Adverbial]

= He made the bookshelf more organised by arranging the books by genre.

g) Arranging the books by genre is a good idea.

[Gerund Phrase – gerund followed by a noun as object of gerund]

h) The bookshelf now looks more organized after arranging the books by genre.

[Gerund phrase]


Note 2:

If an adjective Participial Phrase is wrongly placed before noun, it functions as an adverbial and the meaning changes. Here below are some examples for elucidation.

1. The spy, pretending to read a newspaper, kept a watch on her from a distance, through a hole in the newspaper. [Participle Adjective Phrase]

2. Pretending to read a newspaper, the spy kept a watch on her from a distance, through a hole in the newspaper. [This an Adverbial meaning ‘While he was pretending to...’]

3. The window, which was broken by the ball, has been replaced.

=The window, broken by the ball, has been replaced. [Participle Adjective Phrase]

4. Broken by the ball, the window has been replaced. [Wrong use]

= The window has been replaced since it was broken by the ball.

(as if it wouldn’t have been replaced if broken by a stone)

5. Broken by the bulldozer, the balcony space is now smaller.

= The balcony space is now smaller after it was broken by the corporation bulldozer.

6.The balcony, broken by the corporation bulldozer, is now smaller.

[a non-essential adjective phrase and doesn’t convey the reason as in the sentence above]

7. Broken by repeated failures Akshata attempted suicide.

= She attempted suicide because (as) she was broken by repeated failures.

8. Akshata, (who was ) broken by repeated failures, attempted suicide.

[a non-essential adjective phrase and doesn’t convey the reason as in the sentence above]


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