Patterns: Past Participle + Noun

In my understanding Past Participle + noun means the action applied to the noun as follows:

  1. He murdered a little girl = The little girl was murdered by him. The murdered girl is being investigated by polices.
  2. He copied my file without my permission = My file was copied (by him) without my permission. The copied file is very confidential.


Does the copied file refer to the original file? Or does it refer to the copy of the original file?

Based on my understanding above, the copied file should refer to the original one. But it is not the case when I read the following quote

Subversion does not create an entire new file version in the repository with its copy. Instead, the old and new versions are linked together internally and the history is preserved for both. The copied versions take up only a little extra room in the repository because Subversion saves only the differences from the original versions.

where the copied version represents the copy of the original one.


3 Answers 3


As other answers have collectively suggested, it is ambiguous. However, this is a property of the particular word "copy", not of the construction. Most actions that you perform on something don't result in two instances of it.

  • 1
    Compare the cloned sheep. This is ambiguous as well. Jul 1, 2011 at 12:58

It refers to the copy of the original file. You can say :He copied my file without my permission.The file (he copied) is very confidential.{well,here ,here file refers to the original file according to the context}


It could be understood to mean "the original file", but in the norm, it would be understood to refer to "the file that was the result of the copying".

Usually, people when indicating the original file, would say:

He copied my file without my permission. My file is very confidential.

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