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.


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

Contact Us

Have more questions? Visit the Writing Studio, and we’ll be happy to help!

Contact Information

Campus Address
Writing Studio, Kemp Library
Title of Department Leader
Director, Writing Studio
Sandra Eckard
(570) 422-3593