Interested in Language
Here is a sentence：
"Believing the earth to be flat, many feared that Columbus would fall off the edge."
I think “believing the earth to be flat” works as adverbial. But what kind? Time adverbial? Reason adverbial? Adverbial of manner?
Thanks a lot.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
I agree with Matthew Wai.
Would it help if we added the word "people"?
"Believing the earth to be flat, many [people] feared that Columbus would fall off the edge."
As you can see, the participial phrase is adjectival, modifying the subject "many [people]."
BUT I have great news for you!
One of my favorite books agrees with you that some participial phrases have a DUAL purpose.
The book gives this sentence: "Fearing more trouble, the sheriff sent for help."
The book explains that, yes, the participial phrase does modify the subject but that it also tells WHY he sent for help. Thus, it has an adverbial function, too. (On a typical secondary school examination, however, it would probably be safer to give only the adjectival answer.)
Source: Walter Kay Smart, English Review Grammar (1940).