Past participles are used as adjective in English language. But I have found a sentence on the internet.

As She was looking at me shocked.

I do not know whether this sentence is right or wrong. Because in this sentence shocked is a past participle that has been used as an adverb. I have never learnt that a past participle can be used as an adverb. I want to know whether a past participle can be used as an adverb or not.

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    'Shocked' is describing 'she' here, not the manner of looking. Compare the rather more natural sounding 'She was looking at me, shocked by what we had both just witnessed'. Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 14:10
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    I don't know why you think that past participles are used as adjectives. They can be, but most often they are used as verbs in passive and perfect constructions. As it happens, in your example "shocked" is an adjective functioning as predicative adjunct. It's an adjunct because it's a modifier in clause structure and a complement because it is related to a predicand, i.e. the subject "she".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 14:34
  • @EdwinAshworth: Why do you say it doesn't describe the manner of looking? Semantically, it seems similar to "with a shocked look". Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 15:29
  • @Cerberus As BillJ says, in this case it's a predicative adjective. Compare 'She was looking at me: she was obviously shocked.' In 'Best shot wide', the POS of 'wide' has been argued to be indeterminate (resultative adjective construction, referring to the resulting state, or flat adverb, describing the imperfect shooting process?) Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


Participles, and adjectives as well, can be used like this in the right structure. This use is called praedicative. A praedicative adjective or participle can be said to modify a noun group (often the subject) syntactically and semantically, while it also 'modifies' the praedicate as a whole semantically (functioning a bit like an adverb). Examples:

She arrived first.

She slugged along sullen and humiliated.

She sped up using her spurs.

She looked at me happy and satisfied.

She looked at me happily. [This is not an adjective but a plain adverb.]

She looked at me happily and satisfied. [Somehow, a true adverb cannot be combined with an 'adverbial' praedicative participle here, even though either can be used alone with the exact same meaning.]

Even though subject and object complements are usually not called praedicative, they could also be so categorised. On the one hand, they assign a property or identity to the subject or object; on the other, they could be said to modify the praedicate and function a bit like an adverb:

She appeared quickly.

She appeared in a fine stola.

She appeared in a hurry.

She appeared hurried.

She appeared flustered.

In the examples above, you can see how the (what we call) copular use of appear and the non-copular use are sometimes hard to distinguish. One probably originated in the other. It is therefore also sometimes difficult to categorise the complement as either adverbial or subject complement. And that is normally typical of the praedicate use of adjectives/participles.

She was Roman.

She was of Rome.

She was in Rome.

She was Agrippina.

She was like Livia.

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