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I am using a participial phrase to modify the noun. But instead of the more common way of starting the sentence with the participial phrase, I want to use a medial parenthesis:

So instead of this

Decried by the Roman Church, one aspect of European moral decay was understood to be the engagement in internal conflicts.

I'd like to say:

One aspect of European moral decay, decried by the Roman Church, was understood to be the engagement in internal conflicts.

I want the sentence to start with "one aspect" for emphasis purposes.

  • In your first example, the decried participial clause is not modifying the noun. It’s just a loosely attached supplementary adjunct, not a modifier at all. In your second example it is modifying the noun, though I’m not clear why you have set it off with commas. – BillJ May 17 '16 at 11:55
  • Thank you @BillJ. Wouldn't "decried" in the first sentence modify "one aspect"? Also, if I remove the commas in the second sentence, would be correct? – asef May 17 '16 at 12:03
  • Yes, it would be best to remove the commas in your second sentence. I know it's tempting to see the participial clause as modifying the noun in your first sentence, but it's a different construction that requires a different analysis. The adjunct is correctly set off with a comma which is a sign that it's a supplement. It's not tightly integrated into the NP like a modifier (where it would be helping to identify the noun) and could be dropped with no effect on the core meaning of the sentence. – BillJ May 17 '16 at 12:14
  • @BillJ: I would definitely analyse the participle in the first sentence as modifying one aspect of European moral decay. But I seem to remember we had a similar discussion about commas before! – Cerberus May 17 '16 at 12:16
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    If you remove the commas, the meaning becomes that there were numerous aspects that are decried, and this is stating one of them. With the commas, it's a parenthetical that adds the fact that this aspect is decried. – Barmar May 23 '16 at 17:45

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