guys. Hope you are all in greatest condition. I do know that a verb can serve as an adjective when it is placed before a noun and this verb is either a past participle or a present participle in this case. My question: does a verb in the past participial form always bear a passive sense here? For instance: He was the escaped/escaping prisoner. Is it true that we cannot use escaped in the sentence above?

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    No, it is not true. Either one is correct, with those phrases. But there is no general rule; everything depends on which words you use, and what idioms there are. And there are no general rules of the form you seem to expect (what to expect "a verb in the past participial form" to mean, for instance). In grammar, everything is constructions and constituents, not 'word follows word'. Jul 13, 2020 at 22:31
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    Compare: The baked cake smelled wonderful = the cake that had been baked [by someone] smelled wonderful ; The baking cake smelled wonderful = the cake that was being baked [by someone] smelled wonderful. Both are passive. ++ You are perhaps thinking of reduced relative clauses: "The dog walking past me barked" = "The dog that was walking past me barked," but "The dog walked past me barked" = "The dog that was walked past me [by its owner] barked,"
    – Greybeard
    Jul 13, 2020 at 23:38
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    "Escaped" / "escaping" are both possible depending on context. But they are verbs not adjectives, functioning as attributive modifier of "prisoner". Past-participials as post-head modifiers, as in "The guns stolen in the break-in" have a passive interpretation, but not as attributive modifiers, and certainly not in the case of "escaped"
    – BillJ
    Jul 14, 2020 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


Yes, the passive verbs can act as adjectives when functioning as modifiers or adjuncts to the Noun, as opposed to argument in a sentence. You can use escaped. Word order doesn't matter either. The same goes for "A Found whale", it is describing the state of the noun, not arguing for a change in action.

There are three types of adjuncts: adverbial adjuncts, adjectival adjuncts, and noun adjuncts. Adverbial adj modifies verb or verb phrases. Noun adjuncts modify another noun, chicken-soup or compound nouns. Adjectival adjuncts: An adjectival adjunct is simply an adjective that comes immediately before the noun it describes in a sentence. They can also be referred to as attributive adjectives. Its removal from the sentence will not compromise the grammatical correctness of the sentence. He threw his sharpened spear. The meaning of this sentence is not 'he sharpened and threw his spear', sharpened is an adjective, not a verb. https://www.studysmarter.us/explanations/english/discourse/adjuncts/

See Non Canonical Passives, 2013.

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