I am unsure of what usage the present participle uses in a sentence like "He is seven feet tall, making him the tallest person in the room." I checked the wikipedia article for participles


but none of them seem to fit. For example, I don't think it fits into "adverbially, the subject being understood to be the same as that of the main clause" since "he" is the object of "making" and the subject seems to be something else, and it doesn't seem to fit "similarly, but with a different subject, placed before the participle" since there is no subject in "making him the tallest person in the room."

  • 3
    That's three plus four, giving us seven. That's three plus four, which gives us seven. So I'd say it's a which-clause without the which, the virtual which referring back to a fact expressed in the main clause, rather than to a particular noun in the main clause.
    – TimR
    Jun 4, 2015 at 22:17
  • 3
    It's a common participle construction derived from a reduced relative clause. It's one more use for the -ing form. Anyone having a banana in their ear should remove it immediately = Anyone who has a banana in their ear should remove it immediately. Jun 4, 2015 at 22:30
  • In the banana example, the use is as a restriction; which is easy to solve. In the original, the subject of 'making' is the event 'he is tall', so the linkage would be to the copula [be]. If finite verbs cannot function as subjects, then 'making' must be adverbial, which is interesting since it looks like a verb itself. {This is from a memory storage perspective.}
    – AmI
    Dec 24, 2015 at 0:43
  • I don't know that it matters what you call it, but all the same, I don't see the point of calling it a "present participle", which implies that it functions as an adjective. In the example, what is "making" supposed to modify?
    – Greg Lee
    Dec 29, 2015 at 20:19
  • 'making' is not an adjective; it controls '[to be]', the hidden verb in 'him [to be] the tallest...'
    – AmI
    Jan 28, 2016 at 18:55

3 Answers 3


'Making him ...' is a gerundive adverbial. It inherits the tense and aspect of the main verb (the copula 'He is seven feet tall'). Thus it is equivalent to: 'He is seven feet tall, which makes him the tallest ...'

The agent of 'make[ing]' is the main verb '[be]'.


There is no subject in participle clause. Generally, subject of the main clause is also its subject, full verb is turned into a participle and conjunction and helping verbs are done away with supposedly clarifying temporal relationship. As for example:-

The boy (who was) waiting in the hall expected a phone call.

But this agreement of the subject of the main clause with that of the participle phrase is not an axiom.

Participle sometimes relates to a preceding phrase or sentence of which it forms no part. We should be very much careful while using such participle construction least we might create a faulty syntax.

When there is no scope of such confusion, usage permits such construction where participle is left without a proper subject of reference.

*Frankly speaking, he is not fit for the job.(if one speaks frankly)

**He is seven feet tall, making him the tallest person in the room {thus(as a result) it makes him the tallest person in the room.}

Here the conjunctive adverbial 'thus' meaning 'as a result' or someother word and the 'impersonal it' have been removed in the participle phrase.


He is seven feet tall, making him the tallest person in the room. "Is" is a present participle which tells us that no one is taller than him ( "he" ). "Is" tells us the present status of "he". PResent participle shows what is happening at the present time.

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