Common Errors In The Use Of Participles

Participles are used in absolute phrases with a noun or pronoun going before them.

  • God willing, we shall meet again soon.
  • The sea being rough, they abandoned the Channel swim.
  • The fog having lifted, the plane took off.

Each of these absolute phrases can be transformed into a subordinate clause.

  • If God is willing, we shall meet again soon.
  • As the sea was rough, they abandoned the channel swim.
  • When the fog had lifted, the plane took off.

A common error

Read the following sentence.

  • Having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot the dog.

This means that it was the farmer who bit the postman and not the dog! To avoid confusion, the sentence should be rewritten as follows.

  • The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

The participle is a verbal adjective. It should be related to a proper subject of reference. If the subject is lacking or if a wrong subject is used, the whole sentence would be wrong. Other examples are given below.

  • Being a rainy day, we had to abandon the match. (Wrong)
  • It being a rainy day, we had to abandon the match. (Right)
  • Being a small cot, he could not sleep on it. (Wrong)
  • It being a small cot, he could not sleep on it. (Right)
  • Being too costly for him, he could not buy the coat. (Wrong)
  • It being too costly for him, he could not buy the coat. (Right)
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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