Grammar Lesson: The Participle and Participial Phrase

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Apr 5, 2011

A word that looks like a verb, but functions as an adjective, is a participle. A participle is a type of verbal, a word that is formed from a verb, but functions as another part of speech. Common endings for participles are -ing (reading), -ed (returned), -en (broken), -d (said), -t (lent), and -n (woven).

Each italicized word in these sentences is a participle.

    Mom's puzzling answer confused us.
    These squandered opportunities will not come again soon.
    This forgotten soldier will be honored by the townspeople next weekend.
    The paid workers were happy with their salaries.
    Steve's unsent messages were still stored in his computer.
    A driven athlete will push herself to the limit.

A participial phrase consists of the participle, its modifiers, and other words needed to complete the idea begun by the participle. This type of phrase generally follows immediately after or right before the noun it describes.

The participial phrase is underlined in each sentence.

    Leaving the press conference, the politician felt confident about her answers.
    A memo sent to all the employees was well received.
    The teacher's best lesson delivered to his eighth graders dealt with literary allusions.
    My dad's present, bought by his sisters, was a gold watch.
    Acclaimed by many critics as the year's best movie, The Sound of Music won many awards.
    The Sound of Music, acclaimed by many critics as the year's best movie, won many awards.

Activity- Participial Phrase or Not?

Indicate whether the underlined group of words in each sentence is a participial phrase by writing PART on the line before the sentence. If it is not, write NO on the line.

  1. ____ The tourists were waiting for the leader's directions.
  2. ____ Startled by the loud noise, the parakeet excitedly flew around the cage.
  3. ____ The birds soaring above us were enjoying themselves.
  4. ____ Leaving her child at nursery school on the first day of class was not easy for Mrs. Plunkett.
  5. ____ It was difficult for Perkins to remember his neighbor's telephone number.
  6. ____ The director speaking to the cast members is Mr. Flores.
  7. ____ Burning leaves in one's backyard is illegal in our village.
  8. ____ The screens placed into their windows by Patsy had been repaired by Doug Hayes.
  9. ____ Reading three newspapers a day, Christine enjoyed herself on Cape Cod that week.
  10. ____ Frolicking with the dogs was fun for Luke's cat.
  11. ____ Our goalie was congratulated by all of us.
  12. ____ The young boy running with his friends is my nephew.
  13. ____ Guided by her trusty dog, Debbie found her way to the market.
  14. ____ A book read by many high school students is To Kill a Mockingbird.
  15. ____ The gymnast had struggled with her challenging routine.


  • Sentences 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14 contain participial phrases.
  • Sentences 1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, and 15 do not contain participial phrases.
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