Examples of Using Participles
(1) Use the possessive case when a noun or pronoun modifies a gerund.
Wrong: We have been informed of him being funny at the comedy show.
Right: We have been informed of his being funny at the comedy show.
Wrong: You can finish this project without any one noticing it.
Right: You can finish this project without any one's noticing it.
(2) When the form in -ing is a participle, not a gerund, we use the substantive referring to the doer of the action in the objective case.
Correct: Even now I remember him, selling popcorn at the festival.
NOTE "Him" is the object of "remember." "Selling" is a participle modifying "him." In the sentence, "Even now I remember his selling popcorn at the festival," "his" modifies "selling," the object of "remember.")
(3) Do not use a participle to introduce a sentence unless it logically modifies the subject of the principal verb.
Bad: Replying to your e-mail, the matter has been resolved.
Good: Replying to your e-mail, we have resolved this matter.
Wrong: Walking up the aisle, the woman's dress was caught and torn by the corner of the display case.
Right: Walking up the aisle, the woman caught and tore her dress on the display case.
Better: As the woman was walking up the aisle, she caught and tore her dress on the corner of the display case.
(4) If a participle modifies the noun or pronoun, you must express it in the sentence.
Wrong: The afternoon was spent at the office typing letters and calling clients.
Right: I spent the afternoon at the office, typing letters and calling clients.
Ambiguous: The person called on me, thoroughly angered by my comments.
Better: The agent, angered by my comments, called on me.
(5) Indicate the agent of the action represented by the gerund. If the agent is not indicated by a substantive in immediate relation with the gerund, then you must indicate the subject of the principal verb.
Wrong: After having e-mailed me that I should place her order, I received her cancellation.
Right: After having e-mailed to me that I should place her order, she sent me her cancellation.
Wrong: In talking over with the new boss plans for the coming year, he told me the company would start advertising on T.V.
Right: In talking over with the new boss plans for the coming year, I was told that the company would start advertising on T.V.
Better: In talking over with me plans for the coming year, the new boss told me that the company would start advertising on T.V.
(6) Do not use the present participle to denote an action that is not simultaneous with the principal verb.
Wrong: Leaving here on July 15, he reached Florida in three days.
Right: He left here on July 15 and reached Florida on July 18.
Wrong: He drove for Florida on July 15, arriving there on the 18th.
Right: He drove for Florida on July 15 and arrived there on the 18th.
(7) If a gerund denotes a definite action relating to an object which cannot take the possessive case, use the preposition of with the name of the object.
EX. The detecting of the forgery saved considerable loss. (The detecting the forgery is incorrect.)
(8) Indicate the doer of the action expressed by an infinitive. If the agent is not indicated by a substantive in immediate contact with the infinitive, then you must indicate the subject of the principal verb.
Wrong: The information in the text books was enough to help write our thesis papers.
Better: The information in the text books was enough to help us write our thesis papers.
(9) The perfect infinitive is used to denote action prior to that of the principal verb; otherwise, use the present infinitive. Be careful to see that the infinitives and conditional verb phrases are not incorrectly attracted into the perfect tense.
Wrong: He meant to have called yesterday.
Right: He meant to call yesterday.
Wrong: He planned to have seen you tomorrow.
Right: He planned to see you tomorrow.
Right: He was reported to have sold his comic books.
Right: He is known to have had financial difficulties.
NOTE The words ought, need, must, and should (in the sense of ought) have no distinctive form to denote past time. We denote present time by putting the complementary infinitive into the present tense; we denote past time by putting the complementary infinitive into the perfect tense, as in "You ought to write," "You ought to have written" "You should be careful," "You should have been careful."
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