Past participles in composition

This activity involves working with nonfinite clauses to do some sentence-splitting and sentence-joining. The purpose is to develop your awareness of the different kinds of structures that are available to you as a writer.

Goals

Lesson Plan

A past participle clause has no verb that exhibits tense, but does contain a verb in the past participle form, e.g. watched, talked, built, taken. It is useful to remember that sometimes this verb form has the same shape as the past tense form, but it is used in a different way.

Take a look at this example of a past participle clause being used:

Rewritten as two separate sentences, we might end up with something like this:

Activity 1 can be found in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The slides in Activity 1 can be displayed on a whiteboard or smart board. These slides follow the process we have just demonstrated. This time you will be given two complete sentences to be rewritten into one sentence by using a past participle clause. To give you a hint, we have highlighted the verb that should be turned into a past participle form.

Activity 2 can also be found in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The slides in Activity 2 can be displayed on a whiteboard or smart board. These slides reverse the process in Activity 1. Students are given an example sentence with a past participle clause, and are asked to break the single sentence into two sentences. Clicking on the 'Answer' button reveals the solution for each example.

After students have made the transformations in each activity, ask them to discuss the different effects that each version might have. Ask the following questions:

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Past participles in composition: Activity 1

His report, published yesterday, demands fundamental changes in the way safety is regulated in the North Sea. →

His report was published yesterday. It demands fundamental changes in the way safety is regulated in the North Sea.

Invented in the late sixties, the melotron used a complicated system of loop tape recordings to achieve an effect similar to sampling. →

The melotron was invented in the late sixties. It used a complicated system of loop tape recordings to achieve an effect similar to sampling.

Asked whether he would accept the Everton job if he were offered it, he replied: “I never comment on hypothetical situations.” →

He was asked whether he would accept the Everton job if he were offered it. He replied: “I never comment on hypothetical situations.”

Out of a sample of 232 accidents in 1982-3, 73 per cent were non-major, reported through the indirect B176 system via the DHSS. →

Out of a sample of 232 accidents in 1982-3, 73 per cent were non-major. They were reported through the indirect B176 system via the DHSS.

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Past participles in composition: Activity 2

Beckett’s early work was written in English over the period from 1929 to 1938. It seems restless, nomadic. →

Written in English over the period from 1929 to 1938, Beckett’s early work seems restless, nomadic.

The electromagnetic bell was patented in 1878 by Thomas Watson. It is rugged, reliable and loud enough to be heard from some appreciable distance. →

Patented in 1878 by Thomas Watson, the electromagnetic bell is rugged, reliable and loud enough to be heard from some appreciable distance.

Mr Lenihan was confronted with this evidence. He said that “on mature recollection” he had not telephoned the president. →

Confronted with this evidence, Mr Lenihan said that “on mature recollection” he had not telephoned the president.

Mechanical pencils are designed for drafting. They are also useful for carrying around for sketching at briefing meetings. →

Designed for drafting, mechanical pencils are also useful for carrying around for sketching at briefing meetings.

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