What is the part of speech of 'regarded' in the following?

"a quality of beauty and intensity of emotion regarded as characteristic of poems" (NOAD)

Why isn't it "... [which is] regarded ..."?

And in another case:

"a small lizard with wide feet, found especially in warm countries" (CALD)

And also:

"Words used to describe writing or speech style" (Macmillan)

In all these examples, why shouldn't the verbs be in their passive form (e.g. which is found, words that are used)?

I am a ESL learner and I am very confused by these usages!

2 Answers 2


All of these participial usages are examples, as you suggested, of a syntactic rule that deletes a subject relative pronoun and an auxiliary be from a relative clause.

The rule is called Whiz-Deletion. The name is a mnemonic.
The Wh- part of Whiz-Deletion comes from the fact that relative pronouns start with wh-.
The -iz part of Whiz-Deletion comes from the fact that the most common form of be is is.
The "Deletion" part of Whiz-Deletion means that these are the parts that are deleted.

Whiz-Deletion is the source of virtually all post-nominal adjectival phrases, like

  • the man in the Moon <== the man who is/was in the Moon
  • a boy eleven years old <== a boy who is/was eleven years old
  • a policeman standing on the corner <== a policeman who is/was standing on the corner
  • a locket found in his possession <== a locket which was found in his possession

Since the purpose of an auxiliary be is to carry the tense, when the be gets deleted, so does the tense; these are tenseless, or "non-finite" -- tensed clauses are "finite". That's why I used "is/was" in the examples above -- there's no way to tell which it should be, except in the last example.


It is, brace yourself, a past-participial verbal. It's a verb phase that functions as an adjective. It's equivalent to the phrase that would be made by adding "which is" or "that is", but it's not an abbreviation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.