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.

  • but it's not an abbreviation I'm wondering how you would prove this, can you help?
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 15:02
  • 1
    An abbreviation is “A shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, utilizing omission of letters, and sometimes substitution of letters, or duplication of initial letters to signify plurality, including signs such as +, =, @” (Wiktionary) None of that is happening here. It is an elision. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:37
  • 1
    OED: 2.a. The result of shortening something; an abbreviated or condensed form, esp. of a text; a summary, an abridgement. a1464—2003 -- b. spec. A shortened form of a word or phrase. 1576—2004 -- 3. The action or process of shortening or curtailing something. Also: an instance of this. -- I think either abbreviation (in a general sense) or elision would do.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 12:09
  • 1
    In linguistics, an abbreviation is a shorted form of a word or phrase. If someone told you to end a sentence with a period, and you wrote, “The chicken crossed the road Cretaceous”, that would mistaken, however much the Cretaceous really was a geological period. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 18:22

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