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Present Particple Clauses

Reduce modifying clauses that have active verb forms

Alcatraz
 

Modifying Clause vs. Reduced Clause 

MODIFYING CLAUSE

Modifying (relative) clauses add information about a noun (N) or noun phrase (NP). Some clauses clearly identify the noun to a specific one (restrictive), and other modifying clauses add extra, "nice to know" information (nonrestrictive). Though informative, the clauses are often wordy. Compare how a full (finite) clause can be changed to a reduced (nonfinite) clause.                                      

NOUN + MODIFYING CLAUSE  (RESTRICTIVE)

An island that sits in the center of San Francisco Bay is often surrounded by fog.

The modifying clause limits "an island" to one in the S.F. location.  (finite clause)

*An island ------------------------- is often surrounded by fog.

You can tell if a modifying clause is restrictive by removing it. If the sentence sounds illogical and overly general, then the modifier is needed (no commas).

An island that pelicans choose for nesting is often isolated.

A clause can be reduced if the subject of the modifying clause is the same as the noun that it modifies. This modifying clause cannot be reduced (island ≠ pelicans).

NOUN + MODIFYING CLAUSE  (NONRESTRICTIVE)

The island, which sits in the center of San Francisco Bay, served as the site for a federal prison from 1933 until 1963.

The information in the whole sentence identifies which island we are talking about. Therefore, the modifying clause is an extra comment. Separate it with commas.

Alcatraz Island, which sits in the center of San Francisco Bay, held several infamous inmates.

The modifying clause adds an extra comment about the location of the island. Separate the comment clause with commas.

REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE

Below, the modifying clause is less wordy. The relative pronoun—that, which, or who—is omitted, and the verb, an active form (sits, is sitting, sat, has sat, has been sitting) is changed to the present participle form (-ing). The modifier with a full (finite) clause is changed to a modifier with a reduced (nonfinite) clause. Avoid reducing a clause if important information might be lost.             

NOUN + REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE  (RESTRICTIVE)

An island sitting in the center of San Francisco Bay is often surrounded by fog.   

The active form "sits" is changed to "sitting" (gerund-participle nonfinite clause)

--------- sitting in the center of San Francisco Bay ------------

Note that the participle form (-ing) expresses the verb in a general sense: it no longer includes information about the subject, tense, person or number.

An island choosing for nesting is often isolated.

If reducing the clause causes loss of important information, then it should not be reduced. That is, without "pelicans" this sentece is nonsense, not logical.

NOUN + REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE (NONRESTRICTIVE)

The island, sitting in the center of San Francisco Bay, served as the site for a federal prison from 1933 until 1963.

 

Alcatraz Island, sitting in the center of San Francisco Bay, held several infamous inmates.

 

 

In linguistic description, a finite (full) clause is changed to a nonfinite (reduced) clause.  The secondary verb form of the nonfinite clause is a gerund-participle and it is not marked for tense or number. The subject is understood from the main clause.

infamous (Adj) – well-known for bad behavior

inmates (N) – people serving time ("doing time") in prison

isolated (Part. Adj) – separated from other populations, by itself, alone

nesting (N) – the process in which birds choose a location to make a nest (home) in which they can lay their eggs

pelican (N) – a bird that has a long beak with a large pouch to catch and hold ocean fish; alcatraz (Spanish from Arabic)

sit (V) – be situated, be located

site (N) – location

Related pages: Past Participle Modifiying Clauses, Clause Reduc 1,  Clause Reduc 2 , identifying / nonidentifying clause.

Resources :  Azar 13-11; Swan 411.1-7; Huddleston14 §9, 3 §1.4, 12 §4.1[7]; Lunsford 234, 355. Works Cited

 

 

 

Participle Clauses

Active v. Passive Clause Reduction

 

 

Modifying Clause—Present Participle vs. Past Participle

MODIFYING CLAUSE w/ PRESENT PARTICIPLE

A modifying clause with an active verb (present, past, or progressive tenses) can be reduced if the subject of the modifying clause refers to the same noun as the noun it modifies. A present participle replaces an active verb.

SUBJECT + MODIFYING CLAUSE COMPLEMENT
 NONPASSIVE VERB IN CLAUSE MAIN VERB

Prisoners  who were serving time on "the rock" 

(were serving)

experienced harsh conditions.

Al Capone, who was doing time for numerous crimes,

(was doing)

thought he would never be caught.

MODIFYING CLAUSE w/ PAST PARTICIPLE

A modifying clause with a passive verb can be reduced if the subject of the modifying clause refers to the same noun as the noun it modifies. A past participle replaces the passive verb form in the modifying clause.                            

SUBJECT + MODIFYING CLAUSE COMPLEMENT
 PASSIVE VERB IN CLAUSE MAIN VERB

Prisoners who were imprisoned on "the rock" 

(were imprisoned)

experienced harsh conditions. 

Al Capone, who was convicted on tax evasion,

(was convicted)

participated in murders, prostitution, bootlegging, and racketeering as well.

 

In an active clause, the focus is on the person or thing that takes action. The doer or agentoccupies the subject position of the clause, and the person or thing that undergoes the action, the patient, is placed after the verb in the object position.  See Active v. Passive. Also see Past Participle Modifying Clauses.

tax evasion – avoiding the payment of taxes

bootlegging — selling of alcohol during Prohibition

racketeering — making money illegally , especially in organized crime (e.g. "offering protection")

a finite clause includes a subject and the verb is marked for tense and possibly number (is/was and are/were) and person (3rd person). Prisoners were serving time of "the rock".   

a nonfinite clause rarely includes a subject and the verb is not marked for tense, person or number.  The form is gerund-participle (serving time of "the rock"), past participle (served time of "the rock")  or infinitival (to serve time of "the rock").  

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

London Bridge in Arizona
 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

The London Bridge  located in England is now in Arizona.  

It is not clear that the bridge was relocated (rebuilt) in a new place.

The island serving as a federal prison from 1933 until 1963 sits in the center of San Francisco Bay.   

The time expressed in the modifying clause is not a description that is true now.

Michele Obama demonstrating her hula hooping skills on the White House lawn.  The sentence is missing a verb. This is acceptable as a picture caption in a news story, however.

 

Michele Obama known for her healthy lifestyle.  This is an incomplete sentence - missing the verb or misusing the verb form.

SOLUTION

The London Bridge that was in England is now in Arizona. 

Do not reduce the clause if the verb tense is required to make sense.

The island which served as a federal prison from 1933 until 1963 sits in the center of San Francisco Bay .

The island sitting in the center of San Francisco Bay served as a federal prison from 1933 until 1963.

Do not reduce the clause if the verb tense is required to make sense.

Michele Obama was demonstrating her hula hooping skills on the White House lawn. (Change the participle form  to a complete verb form.)

Michele Obama, (who was) demonstrating her hula hooping skills on the White House lawn, promoted healthy activities. (Use the present participle to introduce a modifying clause AND add a main verb to complete the sentence.) 

Michelle Obama is known for her healthy lifestyle.  (Change the participle form  to a complete verb form.)

Michelle Obama, (who is) known for her healthy lifestyle, was pictured on the front of "Life Style" magazine. (Use the past participle to introduce a modifying clause AND add a main verb to complete the sentence.)  

 

healthy  (Adj) – possesses or enjoys good health; not sick   (See Adjective Forms – Pairs)

healthful or healthy (Adj) –  promotes good health (favorable for, contributes to) good health

 

 

 

 

 

► Show Grammar Notes and Works Cited ▼ Hide Grammar Notes

Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

 

 

Traditional / ESL and Linguistic Descriptions

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION

That + Be Deletion  Rule:    In a modifying clause with a be verb form (prepositional phrase, a passive verb or a progressive verb):

     1)  Omit the subject pronoun (that, who / whom, which).
     2)  Omit the be verb. 

Modified clause: The federal agency — that was locating the prison on Alcatraz — preferred the isolation of the island.
___________________

"An adjective phrase is a reduction of an adjective clause. It modifies a noun. It does not contain a subject and a verb."

(Azar "Reducing Adjective Clauses to Adjective Phrases" 13-11)
____________________

"A participle is often used intead of a relative pronoun and full verb."

(Swan "Reduced relative clauses" 498.10)

ADJECTIVE CLAUSE

diagram of present participle clause 

REDUCED — ADJECTIVE PHRASE

diagram of a reduced present participle clause

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

A finite clause (containing a verb marked with tense) can be changed to a nonfinite subordinate clause (containing a verbal form – a past participle, gerund-participle, or infinitive) which becomes a modifying part of another sentence element —adjectival, adverbial, or nominal.

Finite clause  — which was locating the prison on Alcatraz —  the clause has the internal structure of a sentence--it has a subject and a verb marked with tense.

Nonfinite clauselocating the prison on Alcatraz  —  the clause has a verbal form, a participle, not marked by tense. The clause becomes part of another sentence element, in this case, the subject—  The federal agency locating the prison on Alcatraz
Modified clauseThe federal agency — locating the prison on Alcatraz — preferred the isolation of the island.
"Non-finite clauses as modifiers and supplements" (Huddleston 14 §9, 1264)   

PARTICIPIAL MODIFIER – FINITE CLAUSE

The federal agency that was building the prison

PARTICIPIAL MODIFIER – NONFINITE CLAUSE

Tree diagram of a nonfinite clause

 

Word Categories: N – Noun; V – Verb; Aux – Auxiliary; Adj – Adjective; Adv – Adverb; P –Preposition; Det –Determiner.

Phrasal Categories: NP – Noun Phrase; VP – Verb Phrase; AdjP – Adjective Phrase; AdvP – Adverb Phrase; PP – Prepositional Phrase; DP – Determinative Phrase.

Clausal Categories: Cls – clause; F – finite clause; NF – nonfinite clause (Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle).

Word Functions: Subj – subject; Pred – predicate/predicator; Compcomplement: elements required by an expression to complete its meaning (DO – direct object; IO – indirect object);  Adjunctadjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning (Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator); Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added onto a clause that is not closely related to the central thought or structure of the main clause.

 

 

Works Cited

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Lunsford, Andrea A., and Robert J. Connors. The New St. Martin's Handbook. 3rd ed., Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Alcatraz – The Early Years

Alcatraz
 

 

Read the Context

In August 1775, explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala noticed three small islands, one of which was rocky, and steep. He sailed the first ship into the bay of San Francisco.

Pelicans were flying in circles and diving for fish. The pelicans were nesting on the side of the island.

Juan de Ayala named the island "La Isla de los alcatraces" (Island of Pelicans). He charted San Francisco Bay.

In the 1853, the military needed a strategic site in the bay. The military selected Alcatraz as a garrison to guard the entrance to the bay.

Alcatraz was in the ideal location . Alcatraz was turned into a military fortification with a lighthouse.

The residents needed water considered laying a pipeline from the mainland. Later, they decided that it would be too difficult.

Daily shipments carried water to the island. Daily shipments arrived from the mainland to fill the water cisterns.

The garrison was used to confine military prisoners during and after the Civil War on. The garrison included a prison. 

In October 1933 the Justice Department prepared a statement. It said that it had completed arrangements to take over the military prison. They would be turning it into a maximum security prison.

By 1934, changes to the cell block were completed. The changes made it the most secure facility in the country.

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AlcatrazHistory.com 
"Alcatraz Island." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 May. 2013. Web. 20 May. 2013. 

cell block – main building with individual cells (rooms with bars) where prisoners are confined (kept)

chart (V) – make a map for an area

confine (V) – keep, enclose inside

garrison (N) – a body of troops stationed in a fortified place

facility (N) – something designed and built to serve a specific function (e.g., transportation, educational, research, correctional)

fortification (N) – secure, walled and protected area, usually with cannons or other large gun power

residents (N) – people living in a location

shipment (N) – goods (water or fuel) carried by ship; cargo

strategic (Adj) – important in war or defense planning

 

 

 

 

Select the correct verb form for the modifying clause.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-10" button at the bottom.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Alcatraz – Prison Years

cells
 

 

Read the Context

Alcatraz Island served as a Federal prison from 1934 to 1963. It is located in San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz housed several infamous criminals. They were serving time.

Robert Stroud spent 17 years on "the rock". He was known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz".

Al Capone continued running his rackets from behind bars by buying off guards. He arrived in 1934.

Prisoners knew that escape from the island was impossible. They were held in Alcatraz.

Prisoners attempted to escape. But they were either caught, shot or drowned in the bay.

The prison became old and too expensive to operate. The prison was closed in 1963.

In 1969, Native Americans claimed the island as theirs. The Native Americans were peacefully moved off the island.

The Native Americans held their protest "on the rock". They had received enough public support to renegotiate their treaty with the U.S.

Currently, Alcatraz island serves as a cultural center, tourist destination and site for filming movies. The island is designated as a National Historical Landmark.

designate (V) – indicate, specify, mark, point out

orientation (N) � a welcome talk and description of offerings

racket (N) illegal operations; behind bars, in prison

racketeering � a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, especially in organized crime (e.g. "protection")

renegotiate (V) – make a new deal or bargain

treaty (N) – agreement between nations

AlcatrazHistory.com  "HIstory of the Rock"

National Historic Landmark Program

 

 

 

 

 

Decide whether the reduced clause should use the past or the present participle.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 11-20" button at the bottom.

 

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Alcatraz – Today

visitors
 

 

Read the Context

Today, people can visit the Alcatraz island. People want to visit Alcatraz Island.

Visitors are ferried to the island by boat. Visitors are given a brief orientation by the National Park representative.

Tours are self-guided audio tours. The tours allow visitors to choose where they want to go.

Most tourist want to see the cell block where Al "Scarface" Capone was kept. Most tourists are influenced by Hollywood movies.

Prisoners included  George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Arthur “Doc” Barker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis (Ma Barker Gang), and “Bumpy” Johnson (the Godfather of Harlem). Prisoners were often known by nicknames.

 

Robert “Birdman” Stroud was the subject of the film Bird Man of Alcatraz with Burt Lancaster. He is described as a homicidal sociopath.

Tours are offered to visitors. The tours are recorded on audio devices. The visitors want to learn about nature on the island

The island is home to thousands of birds. They are nesting on the hillsides of the island.

Some visitors prefer a night tour to get a more realistic feeling of what it was like to be imprisoned on the island.  The island usually is surrounded by fog.

Numerous development plans have been rejected. The plans include a resort hotel. Alcatraz is currently under the protection of the National Park Service.

ferry (V) – go by boat service, usually short-distance trips

homicidal-sociopath – a killer who has no sense of moral responsibility or social conscience; a crazy murderer

influenced (Adj) � under the effect of something

Golden Gate National Recreation Area � "Alcatraz Island"

National Park Service "Alcatraz� Things To Do"

 

 

 

 

 

Combine the sentences using a reduced modifying clause.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 21-30" button at the bottom.

 

21.
Today, people can visit the Alcatraz island. People want to visit Alcatraz Island.


22.
Visitors are ferried to the island by boat. Visitors are given a brief orientation by the National Park representative.


23.
Tours are self-guided with audio devices. The tours allow visitors to choose where they want to go.


24.
Most tourists want to see the cell block where Al "Scarface" Capone was kept. Most tourists are influenced by Hollywood movies.


25.
Prisoners included George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Arthur “Doc” Barker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis (Ma Barker Gang), and “Bumpy” Johnson (the Godfather of Harlem). Prisoners were often known by nicknames.


26.
Robert “Birdman” Stroud was the subject of the film Bird Man of Alcatraz with Burt Lancaster. He is described as a homicidal sociopath.  (crazy and a killer)


27.
Tours are offered to visitors. The tours are recorded on audio devices. The visitors want to learn about nature on the island


28.
The island is home to thousands of birds. They are nesting on the sides of the island.


29.
Some visitors prefer a night tour to get a more realistic feeling of what it was like to be imprisoned on the island.  The island usually is surrounded by fog.


30.
Numerous development plans have been rejected. The plans include a resort hotel. Alcatraz is currently under the protection of the National Park Service.