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:
I have spent one hour, maybe more, looking for a parking space.
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 as adjective phrase
A participle acting as an adjective needn’t be a one-word adjective. It can come in the form of a participial phrase which is shown here in bold. The participial phrase acts as an adjective that modifies a noun or pronoun.
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.)
Sam, arriving late, was told to apologize.
(Arriving late is a participial phrase acting as an adjective that modifies Sam.)
Present participle as noun
As stated, 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.
- I heard terrified screaming for help in my dream.
- The mother and daughter thoroughly enjoyed their three hours of duty-free shopping.
- We could hear the distant howling of a wolf.
- It was good timing to go to the cemetery to visit their parents’ graves at this time of the year.
- There was much loud cheering from their supporters.