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    #1

    Lightbulb Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    Hi everyone,

    English grammar uses participles in a wide range of situations. Probably, their most common use is making perfect tenses and passive voice structures. Having said that, my doubt is about the other functions of participles, when they are used before nouns as adjectives (participle adjectives), and after them as participle phrases. Consequently, the position of participles either before or after nouns seems to indicate how they work. Thatís clear when reading these structures. However, not so much at the time of writing.

    Here some examples trying to explain this issue.

    Example 1: Past participle adjective
    If you do not want to specify the required information, you will not be able to terminate the transaction.

    If you do not want to specify the information required, you will not be able to terminate the transaction.

    The first sentence was taken from an English-speaking website. Nonetheless, the second one using past participle after the noun, is it correct? Is this second bold phrase a past-participle one?

    Example 2: Past-participle phrase

    The information required in the declarations should be specified and supplied according to a format prepared for this purpose by the inspection agency.

    The required information in the declarations should be specified and supplied according to a prepared format for this purpose by the inspection agency.

    Again, the first sentence is pure English (taken from an English-speaking website), and the second one shifted the order of the past-participle acting this time as an adjective.

    Please, could someone kindly explain when a participle is used either as an adjective or as a past-participle phrase? Can we invert they position?

    Thank you!

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    Welcome to the forum, alquezad.

    You will doubtless receive some useful responses.

    I'll just pose the question 'Does it matter?' The words in your sentences are past-participle form, and they are, in one way or another, modifying nouns. It does not seem to me to add anything to our knowledge if we apply the label 'adjective' to some of them.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 18-Jun-2016 at 08:09.

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    #3

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    Most participles as modifiers (whether premodifiers or postmodifiers) in noun phrase structure are not adjectives, but verbs.

    (1) the required information
    (2) the information required

    In (1), "required" is an adjective. Though strictly speaking a verb participle, it seems to have acquired adjectival status by virtue of its frequent use as a premodifier of nouns. In general, though, past participles functioning as premodifiers, as in the condemned man, my defeated opponent, a recently discovered fossil, are not adjectives; they are verbs.

    In (2), by contrast, "required" is not an adjective. Participles as postmodifiers are verbs heading non-finite clauses. Past-participial clauses as postmodifiers of nouns are 'bare' passives, the kind without "be", though there is often a by-phrase present, as in The information required by the committee should be available next week. They are comparable in meaning to relative clauses, cf. The information that is required by the committee ...

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    #4

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    Most participles as modifiers (whether premodifiers or postmodifiers) in noun phrase structure are not adjectives, but verbs.

    (1) the required information
    (2) the information required

    In (1), "required" is an adjective. Though strictly speaking a verb participle, it seems to have acquired adjectival status by virtue of its frequent use as a premodifier of nouns. In general, though, past participles functioning as premodifiers, as in the condemned man, my defeated opponent, a recently discovered fossil, are not adjectives; they are verbs.
    You seem to be venturing into the area of subjectivity here (I always find the word 'seems' a little suspect.). Have you any precise definition of 'frequent' that allows us to decide that 'required' is an adjective but 'condemned' and 'defeated' are verbs?
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 18-Jun-2016 at 23:26.

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    #5

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    The way I understand it, it's not a matter of either/or. 'condemned' and 'defeated' are both verbs and adjectives; they are not mutually exclusive. I'm not claiming this to be a fact, just a point of view.

    Equally so with present participles, such as in a phrase like: The Earth is spinning. If spinning is an attribute of the Earth, then is it not an adjective?

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    #6

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    You seem to be venturing into the area of subjectivity here (I always find the word 'seems' a little suspect.). Have you any precise definition of 'frequent' that allows us to decide that 'required' is an adjective but 'condemned' and 'defeated' are verbs?
    Hi everyone, thanks for your answers and greetings.

    According to some English Grammar books, participles (both present and past) are one of the six verb forms every verb has (aside from modal verbs), and can be used as adjectives acting before nouns or after them making participle phrases. So, strictly speaking, they are verbs, but can act as adjectives as well.

    Considering this dual behaviour, my question is when participles should be used as adjectives (pre-noun modifiers) or as pure verbs in participle phrases (past-noun modifiers). If both can be employed interchangeably, what elements should we take into account to choose one of them?

    For example, what's the difference in meaning between the required information and the information required given in the sentences above?

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    #7

    Re: Participle phrases and participle adjectives

    There's no effective difference in meaning between your sentences in Example 1. In Example 2, the second sentence doesn't work (for reason given by Paul Matthews, above).

    It seems to me that there's a general rule that a participle appearing before the noun sounds more attributive whereas after the noun it is more identifying.

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