A participle is a verbal, or a word based off of a verb that expresses a state of being, ending in -ing (present tense) or -ed, -en, -d, -t, -n, or -ne (past tense) that functions as an adjective.

This means it needs to modify (or describe) a noun or a pronoun.

  • Present Participle Example: The crying baby had a wet diaper.
  • Past Participle Example: The wrecked car was totaled.

A participle phrase is a group of words containing a participle, modifier, and pronoun or noun phrases. The Pronoun/Noun will act the recipient of the action in the phrase. You need a comma after a Participle Phrase if it comes at the beginning of a sentence and the following phrase is a complete sentence. If the Participle Phrase is in the middle or at the end of a sentence, you do not need a comma.

Participle Phrase + Comma + Whole Sentence

  • Ex: Removing his coat, Jack rushed to the river.
  • Present Participle (removing) + Whole Sentence (Subject: Jack, Verb: rushed)

The participle phrase in this sentence is removing his coat, which is at the beginning of the sentence with a whole sentence following it so a comma is needed.

Whole Sentence + Participle Phrase

  • Ex: Delores noticed her cousin walking along the shoreline.
  • Subject (Delores) + Verb (noticed) + Present Participle (walking)

The participle phrase in this sentence is walking along the shoreline, which is at the end of the sentence so a comma is not needed.

Resource:

Purdue OWL: Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives.” Purdue OWL. Purdue OWL, 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.

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