The present participle is also used as an adjective before a noun to describe the noun (walking shoes), as a noun (a grouping of selected plants) and in a nonfinite clause (Arriving too early at the railway station, he found a seat for a nap.) 



Present participle as adjective
A present participle can function as an adjective to modify a noun, and is known as a participial adjective. The participle usually comes before the noun that it modifies. The following examples show participial adjectives in bold:



  • We had to run as fast as we could in the pouring rain.

    (The present participle pouring acts an adjective modifying the noun rain.)

  • I have spent one hour, maybe more, looking for my missing car keys.

  • Creatures from an alien planet were our leading topic of conversation.

  • His failing eyesight makes it hard for him to recognize his own daughter.

  • The crumbling monument to the former leader was pulled down.  




Present participle phrase as adjective phrase modifying noun or pronoun.
A participle acting as an adjective needn’t be a one-word adjective. It can come in the form of a participial phrase or adjective phrase. The phrase acts as an adjective that modifies a noun or pronoun. It is shown in bold in the following examples. 


  • Arriving late, Sam was told to apologize.  

    (Arriving late is a participial phrase that acts as an adjective modifying Sam.)


  • The shadowy figure disappearing into the darkness was thought to be a ghost.(The participial phrase disappearing into the darkness modifies the noun figure.)  

  • Being the last train, it carried only one passenger and his dog.  

    (Being the last train is a participial phrase that acts as an adjective modifying the pronoun it.) 

  • Looking at the sea, he said there must be plenty of fish in the sea.

    (The participial phrase looking at the sea modifies the pronoun he.) 


  • Raising our glasses, we toasted the bride and groom.  

    (The participial phrase raising our glasses modifies the pronoun we.)






Present participle as noun.
The present participle follows an auxiliary verb to form the continuous tense. If a participle is not following an auxiliary verb, it could be acting as a noun (called a gerund). Used as a noun, the present participle may be modified by an adjective. Present participles used as nouns are shown in bold in the following examples, while the adjectives are underlined. 


  • We heard terrified screaming for help in the park.
  • She does her weekly shopping on Sunday.
  • We could hear the distant howling of a wolf.
  • It was good timing to reach home just before it started to rain.
  • There was much loud cheering from their supporters.