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The Past Participle as Attribute

As an attribute, the past participle can stand before or after the noun it modifies:

I’ve got a broken heart.

Most of the people invited didn’t turn up.


The past participle can function as a detached attribute. In such cases its position is not fixed: it may occupy the initial position, the mid-position or the final position in the sentence:

Greatly excited, the children went to the garden.

And people hurried by, hidden under their dreadful umbrellas.

In writing, a detached participle is set off from the modified noun by a comma. Participles as detached attributes are used only in literary style.



1.The past participle used as an attribute (before or after the noun) almost always has a passive meaning. A broken window is a window that has been broken by somebody; the problems discussed means the problems that were, have been or are discussed.

However, there are a few past participles that can be used as attributes with an active meaning. Examples are fallen, vanished, escaped, faded, decayed: fallen rocks; vanished civilizations; an escaped prisoner; faded colours, decayed wood.


2.In the function of an attribute, there is a difference in the meaning expressed by the past participle and the present participle in the passive form. The present participle in the passive form emphasizes the meaning of the simultaneous process, whereas the past participle has a more general passive meaning.


the article being translated by the students = the article which is being translated by the students

the article translated by the students = the article which is being translated or the article which has been/was translated by the students


3.The past participle cannot always be used as an attribute BEFORE a noun. We can say a broken window, but it is not possible to say *the discussed problems. When we put a participle before a noun, it usually expresses some more permanent characteristic: it is more like an adjective than a verb. When we speak about a broken window, we are not necessarily thinking of the action; we may just be thinking of the way the window looks. On the other hand, if we talk about the problems discussed at the meeting, or the window broken last night, we are thinking more of the actions; the participle is like a verb as well as an adjective.


4.A few participles can change their meaning according to their position.


the people concerned means ‘the people who were affected by what was happening’ - a concerned expression means ‘a worried expression’;

the people involved means the same as ‘the people concerned’ - an involved explanation means ‘a complicated explanation’;

the solution adopted means ‘the solution chosen’ - an adopted child lives with people who are not his/her biological parents.


Exercise 19. Rewrite the sentences using the past participle as an attribute:

1.The new shampoo which is advertised on TV is very expensive. 2.The jewels which were taken by the thieves were very valuable. 3.They haven’t identified the body which was found in the Thames. 4.The portrait which was painted by my brother was lovely. 5.We were shown a manuscript which was written five centuries ago. 6.I’ve found the money which was lost last week.

Exercise 20. Complete the sentences using the past participle as an attribute:

1.Here is the letter ... 2.Where is the article ... ? 3.Everyone approved of the report ... 4.This is the house ... 5.They reached the village ... 6.I found the book …



Date: 2015-12-24; view: 5279

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The Present Participle as Adverbial Modifier of Attendant Circumstances | THE OBJECTIVE PARTICIPIAL CONSTRUCTION
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