I am a Japanese teacher of English who is making a teaching material for my students. I would like to know whether the following usage would be totally accepted in school grammar. To put my question in other words, would a very grammar-sensitive person allow the following usage (in bold font)?

A: What is your favorite movie?

B: It is Titanic created in 1997 by James Cameron.

So, the point here is whether you can grammatically modify a proper noun with a participle. I know it's totally okay to write something like "a movie created in 1997 by James Cameron," where participle modifies a common noun, but I'm not sure if the same is allowed for proper nouns.

Thank you,


3 Answers 3


You would need a comma after "Titanic," or after any proper noun, and before the participle, whereas you do not with the common noun example. Another example: "It was a book read by many high school students," versus "It was Moby Dick, read by many high school students." The first sentence answers the question: what type of book, what characterizes the book? The second answers a different question: which book? The word "read" is necessary to the meaning intended in the first sentence, and optional in the second sentence.

  • A comma would be necessary before any non-defining participle clause. 'Another transition metal is molybdenum, isolated in 1781 by Peter Jacob Hjelm.' Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 16:49

It is Titanic, created in 1997 by James Cameron.

No, you can’t post-modify a proper noun with an 'integrated' subordinate clause. The only solution is to use a 'supplementary' adjunct, the loosely attached kind set off with a comma (or dashes), and spoken as a separate intonation unit. But note that supplements are not modifiers, so although the created- clause does refer to Titanic, it doesn’t actually modify it. It's the same principle as that in the supplementary relative equivalent It is Titanic, which was created in 1997 by James Cameron. Supplementary (non-defining/non-restrictive) relatives are also set apart by punctuation and spoken as a separate intonation unit.

Everything is fine, though, with common nouns as in your other example a movie created in 1997 by James Cameron. Here, the non-finite created- clause is modifying the noun "movie". Notice how it's tightly integrated into the noun phrase, not set apart like it is in your "Titanic" example, and hence no comma is required. Semantically, it is similar to the integrated (defining/restrictive) relative construction a movie which was created in 1997 by James Cameron.

So, pop in a comma after "Titanic" and all will be fine, but just don't say the clause is post-modifying the noun "Titanic" because it isn’t.


Sure, proper nouns are subject to the same modifiers as common nouns. Here's the start of a review of the movie in question:

The movie "Titanic", written, directed, and produced by James Cameron centers on the sinking of the RMS Titanic, while also focusing on a fictitious love story between two forbidden loves.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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