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# A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT Participles are

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A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT Participles are [#permalink]

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11 Jul 2012, 10:49
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A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT

Participles are tested often in GMAT these days especially at higher levels. For many average test takers, the use of participles is an enigma because of the similarities of the participles with progressive tenses, or perfect tense forms such as in verb+ ing forms or verb +ed forms, verb+en form, verb+t etc.

Participles indicate an action differently from the way the verbs do. The use of present participle or past participle does not indicate the tense of the action. They are just technical names. In fact participles are grouped along with other timeless expressions such as infinitives and are called verbals rather than verbs.

Participles are handy for usage in cases in which a secondary idea is to be represented or when you want to represent a noun or noun idea that lies distantly from the participle. It is also used when a relative pronoun can not correctly adhere to the touch rule, and can not refer to the noun just in front.

E.g:
1. Spain won the 2010 World Cup Soccer title in great style, finishing off with a grand victory over Netherlands.
The highlighted portion is secondary to winning, the primary focus

2. Found throughout Central and South America, the sloth hangs from trees by its long rubbery limbs, sleeping fifteen hours a day and moving so infrequently that two species of algae grow on its coat and between its toes.
Here the present participles sleeping and moving refer to the sloth which is distant and not just before

3. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

The relative pronoun ‘which’, logically refers to letters, flouts the touch rule. A good way to amend this error is to use a participle

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

Sample participle forms are

1. present participle – verb+ing: Listening , swimming, smiling, following etc

Examples: Listening to the melodious tunes of Lata Mangeshkar, Tom dozed off on the couch.

Swimming across the turbulent river, the villager reached the other side of the river.

Following the footsteps of Jack, Jill fell and rolled down

2. Past participle: verb+ ed; ( Most talked about film ) verb+en ( very often eaten fruit), verb+ t ( The verbal modules dealt with in GMAT are SC. RC and CR} and some other irregular forms such as found etc.

3. How the tense is decided while using the participles?

It will be interesting to note that the use of present participle form may not set a sentence in the present tense, as you can see in the above examples, which are all in past tense, while the participles themselves are present participles. Very often "Present participle", using the verb+ing” forms are mistaken to represent present tense. The verb +ing forms take on the tense of the clause to which they belong.

Look at the following sentences

Staring straight into the eyes, the interviewer tried to explore the mind of the candidate.

Barking loudly at the intruder, the dog woke up everybody in the colony.

Similarly a past principle form taking on the verb+ ed form or any such similar form , need not represent past tense.

Look at the following sentences for some contrasting contexts.

1. Targeted several times for its affluence in the olden days, India finally succumbed to brutal onslaught of the Mediterranean raiders.

Here the particle Targeted is used in the past tense,

Targeted by many aspirants of MBA course, GMAT is a bench mark test.

Here targeted is used in the present tense form.

Therefore what decides the tense of the main verb is not the form of the participle, but the contextual verb of the main clause.

Located at water borne crevices, otters are social mammals based on nuclear families

Situated at the top of a series of seven hills in Andhra Pradesh, and visited by millions of pilgrims each year, Tirupati is an important milestone in the religious tourism of India.

In the above examples, although the participles are expressed in the past form, the tense is actually a present tense

You my see therefore those participles by themselves have no tense at all.

Participial phrases are group of words containing a participle and some more words such as prepositions, or adverbs etc. The participial phrase acts as the adjective modifying an appropriate noun.

A participle or a participial phrase can be used at the beginning of a sentence, in which case, it has to be set off with a comma and should be immediately followed by the noun it modifies.

Example: Targeted several times for its affluence in the olden days, India finally

Here, “Targeted several times for its affluence in the olden days” is the participial phrase that starts the sentence and ‘India “‘is the modified noun, See the comma that has been placed in between olden days and India. This is an important pointer of the participial acting as a modifier.

Another example: Targeting India for its affluence in the olden days, the Mediterranean raiders finally won decisive victories as India gave in.

Participles can also occur in the middle of a sentence.

Some of the orphans, gathered from the streets of Kolkatta and reared by Mother Theresa and her army of Sisters in their ashram, grew to be brilliant children and successful adults in their later day lives.

Here the participle “gathered” and “ reared” appear in the middle of the sentence and modify the preceding noun “Some of the orphans”.

A participle can also appear at the end.

Spain won the 2010 World Cup Soccer title in great style, finishing off with a grand victory over Netherlands.

Here the participial phrase “finishing off with a grand victory over Netherlands”, appears at the end of the sentence and modifies the noun Spain.

Essential principles of setting off the modifying participial phrases with comma or commas in the sentence

Rule 1. When the participial phrase begins a sentence set it off with a comma and place the modified noun immediately after the comma.

Example

Dropping out from his Business School, Bill embarked on a profitable electronic career.

Rule 2, When the participle or participial phrase is placed in the middle of the sentence, set if off with a comma, if the participle is not essential.

Example

The orphans, procured from the streets of Kolkatta and nurtured by Mother Theresa, grew to be useful adults in their later lives

Here the participial phrase is inessential to complete the meaning of the sentence that they grew to be useful adults. So we have set off the participial phrase within commas.

Rule 3 if the participle is necessary to complete the meaning of the sentence, then use it without setting off with a comma.

Example

The countries depending on the US for the export of their electronic merchandise were the worst hit in the recent recession.

Here the participial can not be separated from the clause and is logically vital to complete the meaning of the clause. Hence we should not use a comma to separate the modifier.

Rule4. When a participle is placed at the end of a sentence, and if the participle flows from the main sentence, then comma should not be used. .

Taxpayer often find government procedures very confusing and taxing

Here the present participles confusing and taxing flow from the main sentence and are essential to complete the intended meaning. So comma is not required to be used between procedures and very

Rule 5. If on the contrary, the participle is merely an adjunct adding extra meaning, then set off with comma

Example;

Spain won the 2010 World Cup Soccer for the first time in her history, finishing off with a goal at the fag end of the extra time

Here the main sentence can still make complete sense without the help of the participial phrase modifier. Hence set it off with comma.

Is it parallel to use present participle and past particle in the same sentence?

Yes. You may use present as well as past participles in one and the same sentence and still the sentence is considered parallel in GMAT.

Examples

The growth of the railroads led to the abolition of local times determined by when the sun reached the observer’s meridian and differing from city to city, and to the establishment of regional times.

Found throughout Central and South America, the sloth hangs from trees by its long rubbery limbs, sleeping fifteen hours a day and moving so infrequently that two species of algae grow on its coat and between its toes.

Originating from time immemorial as a tool to relax the hardworking peasantry of the time and nurtured by countless number of generations simply by word of mouth, the folk music can even today move people’s hearts by its melody and simplicity.

Scientists have recently discovered what could be the largest and oldest living organism on Earth, a giant fungus that is an interwoven filigree of mushrooms and root like tentacles spawned by a single fertilized spore some 10,000 years ago and extending for more than 30 acres in the soil of a Michigan forest.

(A) extending
(B) extends
(C) extended
(D) it extended
(E) is extending

How does a present participle differ from a gerund?

Basically a gerund is a noun in a “verb+ ing” form using a present participle.

Example: Singing is a nice past time
Swimming is a tiring exercise.

A gerund is normally used in places where we are not able to use any other suitable forms of noun. Often a gerund will b preceded by a possessive adjective such as “his” walking, “my” skiing etc.

Some GMAT examples

1. A New York City ordinance of 1897 regulated the use of bicycles, mandated a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, required of cyclists to keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, and it granted pedestrians right-of-way.

A. regulated the use of bicycles, mandated a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, required of cyclists to keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, and it granted
B. regulated the use of bicycles, mandated a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, required cyclists to keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, granting
C. regulating the use of bicycles, mandated a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, required cyclists that they keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, and it granted
D. regulating the use of bicycles, mandating a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, requiring of cyclists that they keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, and granted
E. regulated the use of bicycles, mandating a maximum speed of eight miles an hour, and requiring cyclists to keep feet on pedals and hands on handlebars at all times, and granted

2. The Anasazi settlements at Chaco Canyon were built on a spectacular scale with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each, were connected by a complex regional system of roads.
A. with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each, were
B. with more than 75 carefully engineered structures, of up to 600 rooms each,
C. of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms, each that had been
D. of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms and with each
E. of more than 75 carefully engineered structures of up to 600 rooms each had been
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Re: Use of participles in GMAT [#permalink]

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11 Jul 2012, 12:11
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daagh wrote:
3. Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

The relative pronoun ‘which’, logically refers to letters, flouts the touch rule. A good way to amend this error is to use a participle

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

Hi there,
You have done a comendable job here. I'm sure a lot of students will benefitted from this write-up. Keep up the good job.

However, I have a very differnt take on a rule that you have written about - "‘which’, logically refers to letters, flouts the touch rule." The sentence does not have any error. This is the sentence with correct answer choice.
A relative pronoun modifier can only refer to preceding noun entities. This noun entity can be a one-word noun or a noun phrase. In case of a noun phrase, the relative pronoun modifies the head of the noun phrase. This noun is generally a little far away from the relative pronoun. This OG sentence is a perfect example of that.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.
In this sentence, "which" is placed next to SHD. However, the sentence is still correct because the prepositional phrase "to SHD" cannot be placed anywhere else in the sentence without violating the meaning of the sentence. In this situation, "ED's letters to SHD" is one big noun phrase and "which" can comfortably refer to the head of this phrase - "letters". This modification is absolutely fine.

Thanks.
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Re: Use of participles in GMAT [#permalink]

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11 Jul 2012, 19:37
@egmat

First, thanks for your kind words of appreciation;

Second, I am afraid that you have mistaken. The purpose of citing the ED’s passage was to impress upon the importance of the touch rule.

In fact, this is my comment about the same GMAT passage in a different context in this same forum as an example of GMAT passage.

Pl visit the url below

emily-dickinsons-letters-to-susan-huntington-dickinson-were-102614.html#p1097057

Quote:
Re: Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink] Jun 16, 2012 9:32 am
May I butt in once again on this vexed question of the touch rule of the relative pronoun ‘which?’

First thing is that the intent of this text is to highlight primarily Dickinson’s letters to Susan outnumber her letters to anyone else. That they were written during a certain period is just a modifier, not very essential to the core. That is the reason that, writing and ending, which are addendums, need not parallel the primary action outnumber. In the context of understanding this subtlety of meaning, this passage is even more relevant to current thinking of GMAT.

Now to the relative pronoun ‘which”. What can ‘which’ refer to in choices D and E.? As per bare theory, it should refer to Dickinson who is a human and hence the use of ‘which’ is outrightly wrong. Secondly, the plural verb points out to some plural subject, and letters is the only plural that can antecede ‘which’. The prepositional phrase namely to Susan Huntington Dickinson is an essential modifier of the letters and therefore we are required to carry it along with the subject.

You may see that the given text does not have the best choice that I have cited in my participles pamphlet. In the absence of that, we have taken E as ‘the best among the lot’ choice, because it carried the intention of the passage in fidelity and grammar.

Hope you get my point.
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Re: Use of participles in GMAT [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2012, 11:22
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Hi there,

First and foremost thing – “Official Guide” from GMAC has been provided to us to set the standard for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable on GMAT. So it is a FUTILE exercise to QUESTION or FURTHER CORRECT officially correct answers. For us GMAT experts, OG is THE BIBLE…

Yes, I completely agree to the notion that among the given five answer choices, we need to select “the most ideal one”. This answer choice may not be the best possible way or the most optimum way of writing the same sentence. But the correct answer choices in the OG are definitely error-free.

1. If you say that the correct answer choice of the ED letters question (question included below for quick reference) is not error free ("A good way to amend this error is to use”), it somehow means that you do not quite agree with OG on what they say is correct. If there were any issue with the use of “which” in the correct sentence, OG would not go ahead to incorporate this usage in the correct answer choice. But if they have done so, this means this usage is accepted by them. And we are very well aware of the credibility of the standard of OG questions. So please do not CORRECT officially correct answers. Such things un-necessarily cause confusion in the mind of the readers who are reading the content here.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.
(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering
(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering
(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

2. Furthermore, while attempting to rectify the supposed incorrect ED letters sentence, you have replaced “which were written” with “written”. However, as such the modifier “written over a period…” is simply an abbreviated version of the original relative pronoun modifier “which were written….”. So really speaking the sentence construction is just the same. And hence you have not changed anything by going from sentence A to B.
A - “Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.
B - Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.”

The book, which has been written by an 18 year old girl, is a best-seller.
The book, which has been written by an 18 year old girl, is a best-seller.

Both sentences above have same sentence structure. The rules that govern "which" modifiers are the same that govern the "verb-ed modifiers".

Take aways:

1. DO NOT QUESTION officially correct answers. They are error-free.
2. “which modifers” follow same set of modifier rules than “verb-ed” modifiers do. Both modify nouns. Its just that they have different grammatical constructions.

Thanks,
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Last edited by egmat on 12 Jul 2012, 13:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use of participles in GMAT [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2012, 13:14
Hi Daagh

Thanks for sharing the Pamphlet.

Can you please clarify my doubt regarding the example cited under Rule 2.

Rule 2, When the participle or participial phrase is placed in the middle of the sentence, set if off with a comma, if the participle is not essential.

Example

The orphans, procured from the streets of Kolkatta and nurtured by Mother Theresa, grew to be useful adults in their later lives

Heres, 'The orphans' could refer to any orphans whereas here we are talking about specific subset of orphans(procured from streets and nurtured...) who grew to be useful adults in their later lives. So doens't it make the information (within the participal phrase) essential.

Thanks,
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Re: Use of participles in GMAT [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2012, 19:22
If you think it is essential. then do not set off; If you think that sentence makes complete meaning even without the modifier, then set it off. In the given case, will it make good sense without the modifier or not? Depending upon the case, one has to decide.
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Re: A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT Participles are [#permalink]

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25 Jun 2015, 14:46
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Re: A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT Participles are [#permalink]

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07 Oct 2016, 13:24
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: A Pamphlet on the Use of Participles in GMAT Participles are   [#permalink] 07 Oct 2016, 13:24
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