I'm writing a story that will be published on a couple of websites. It is a fantasy story that talks about creatures called "The Shadows". I'd like to title the story "The Shadows Born" but I'm wondering if this use of the verb "born" sounds strange. Forgive this stupid example but I think that it is grammatically correct since I can write "The Shadows play" or "The shadows fly" to say that shadows can play or fly in this specific moment (again sorry for the stupid example... but I can't find a better way to explain it). Since I'm writing about how these "shadows" have been created I'd like to use the verb born... I'm wondering if it sounds somehow "creative" or completely wrong.


I'm learning a lot from your comments. Thank you very much.

A friend of mine suggested to take a look at this example: In the TV Series Game Of Thrones, one character is called "Stormborn". Could it be more "appealing" using the "shadows" in that way? Hence, "The Shadows Born" could be intended as: "The person/thing who was born from the shadows".

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    There's: The Shadows Borne.....which is not about being born but carrying the weight of something: to bear Shadows. Similar usage of a past participle: Chronicle of a Death Foretold, which is the English translation of the Garcia Marquez novella.
    – Lambie
    May 13 at 22:37
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    Born is a past participle, and can be used like an adjective, pre- or post-nominal. But it's not a verb and doesn't form a sentence. If it's a predicate adjective, it needs an auxiliary verb (normally some form of be). May 13 at 23:04
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    The Shadows Born works just fine if you mean to refer to the shadows who are/were/have been born. May 14 at 2:29
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    Born is a past participle, so the corresponding phrases with other verbs would be like The Shadows Flown or The Shadows Fallen. These are both grammatical, but they don't mean the same thing as The Shadows Fly or The Shadows Fall. So be sure that the meaning works with your story. May 14 at 11:50
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    The Shadows Born is fine, but it ain't sexy. The walls bore the shadows even today of ghosts long gone.
    – Lambie
    May 14 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


The shadows born is a perfectly good noun phrase (a little unusual with the adjective born following rather than preceding, but not unknown, especially in a title).

It is not a full sentence, because it does not have a finite verb (born is a past participle). It is therefore grammatically completely different from your sentences the shadows play/fly

  • isn't "born" a verb? -> "I born, you born... they born". Apologies for the basic question... I thought I could use "The shadows born" as "They born"
    – MatterGoal
    May 14 at 8:56
  • No. I born and you born are not grammatical. Born is not a verb, it is the past participle of the verb bear (in the special sense of having a child).
    – Colin Fine
    May 14 at 10:44
  • This is so strange to me because checking grammar websites to get more info about the word "born" they show it as a verb! (don't get me wrong... I completely trust what you are saying... it is just very confusing for a non-native speaker)
    – MatterGoal
    May 14 at 18:32
  • conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-english-verb-born.html <--- this is the website I'm referring to.
    – MatterGoal
    May 14 at 18:33
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    @MatterGoal: The base form of the verb is bear, not born. A woman bears a child; the child is born to the woman. May 14 at 19:17

As pointed out above, in order to use 'ellipsis' to reduce relative clauses we use the participle form - both past participle and present participle.

e.g. Even Tom, who is considered to be an expert, failed to find a solution can be expressed as Even Tom, considered to be an expert, failed to find a solution (past participle changing the relative clause)

or The man, who is standing near the door, is my lawyer. This can be changed to: The man, standing near the door, is my lawyer. Here we use the present participle to do the same.

Born is not a verb - true - as it takes the verb to be (is/was/ will be + born). However, it can be used in a similar fashion. Born to be wild is pretty well known as is Born in the USA.

So Shadows born is perfectly OK.

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    Indeed it is. But 'ellipsis' is not a syntactic term per se; it's more of a general term meaning "something's left out". Shadows born is an example of the specific syntactic rule of Whiz-Deletion applied to a relative clause shadows [that were] born and deleting the bracketed items. May 14 at 13:50
  • I've added information to my question, @The_English_Teacher do you mind to check it?
    – MatterGoal
    May 14 at 18:47
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    @MatterGoal Oxford and Webster dictionaries refer to 'born' as adjective whereas Cambridge dictionary refers to it as verb. Cambridge adds that it is used as "be born'. The confusion is common - The verb 'to bear' in the past simple is 'bore' and the participle is 'borne' or 'born'. As I mentioned above, the participle form is often used as an adjective. eg. broken glass. Either way, that link gives wrong information. May 15 at 21:17

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