Beatrice, nine, sent a letter to the actor asking for piracy lessons to help lead a mutiny against the teachers.

What does the asking participle phrase act as? Why is participle phrase used instead of multiple clause?

  • 1
    The statement makes perfect sense to me. What would you suggest in its place?
    – Robusto
    Feb 4, 2011 at 0:53
  • Yeah, I don't feel like I can even grasp the question enough to write an answer. What does it act as? It acts as a participle phrase. What kind of answer are you looking for there?
    – chaos
    Feb 4, 2011 at 1:08
  • act as a subject, object, etc. maybe I should use 'function as' or something else.
    – lovespring
    Feb 4, 2011 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


It acts as a subordinate clause further explaining the action of the sentence (in which Beatrice is the subject, sent is the verb, the letter is the direct object and the actor is the indirect object). I don't understand how you're posing "participle phrase" and "multiple clause" as opposing alternatives; the participle phrase is one of the multiple clauses in the sentence.

The entire sentence is quite grammatically correct.

  • 1
    I think a participle phrase is usually not considered a clause, because it can never have its own subject or finite verb. Feb 4, 2011 at 2:58
  • @Cerberus: I'd be interested in hearing more about that, but it's inconsistent with e.g. ling.upenn.edu/hist-corpora/annotation/….
    – chaos
    Feb 4, 2011 at 3:07
  • 1
    A phrase is different from a clause, at least in the traditional sense.
    – apaderno
    Feb 4, 2011 at 12:44
  • Well, yeah, but they're not alternatives to each other, they're constructs at different levels of abstraction. In any event, my best analysis of that sentence is that the participle phrase in question is functioning as a subordinate clause in terms of its role in the sentence; if that's not how it's functioning, what is the correct answer to the question?
    – chaos
    Feb 4, 2011 at 15:58
  • 1
    @chaos: Sorry for my late reply. I'd call it an attributive or adjectival phrase. A participle is an adjectival word; that is, it can function as an adjective in most situations. It modifies either "Beatrice" or "a letter" (that is for the reader to decide, and it doesn't matter). A clause is a phrase that can contain a finite verb and usually a subject. I know some people call participial phrases clauses: I just think it is not the way to go, and it goes against the traditional definition. I ask: what would then be the difference between clause and phrase? Feb 12, 2011 at 2:25

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