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.
- Transform multiple sentences into a single sentence with a past participle clause.
- Transform single sentences with past participle clauses into multiple sentences.
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:
- Originally built as houses, Eaton Square now has some three hundred and fifty flats. [S2A-045 #100]
Rewritten as two separate sentences, we might end up with something like this:
- Eaton Square was originally built as houses. It now has some three hundred and fifty flats.
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:
- Would we be more likely to write one version than the other? Why or why not?
- Is there a difference in effect between one version and another? If so, what is the difference?
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