Past Participle Exercise (294)

The past participle form of the verb functions as a verb when it is used with a helping verb: "As a child, Charlie had sung soprano." Used without a helping verb, the past participle functions as an adjective: "The sung litany of the priest was soothing." Identify the function of the past participle forms in boldface in the following sentences.

  • Written in blood, the message identified the murderer.

  • The children had drunk up all their profits before they sold the last glass of lemonade.

  • Where we lay, the chimneys were all blown down.

  • The horse, startled by the noise, broke away from the groom.

  • The poor man stared speechless, overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had done.

Answers and Explanations

1. Written in blood, the message identified the murderer.

Correct: adjective modifying a noun
"Written in blood" is a participle phrase modifying "the message."

2. The children had drunk up all their profits before they sold the last glass of lemonade.

Correct: part of a complete verb
The complete verb is "had drunk."

3. Where we lay, the chimneys were all blown down.

Correct: part of a complete verb
The complete verb is "were blown (down)."

4. The horse, startled by the noise, broke away from the groom.

Correct: adjective modifying a noun
"Startled by the noise" is a participle phrase modifying "The horse."

5. The poor man stared speechless, overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had done.

Correct: adjective modifying a noun
"Overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had done" is a participle phrase modifying "The poor man." The phrase contains a clause ("what he had done") that functions as the object of the preposition of.

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