From The Use of Participles and Gerunds – Wenyuan Gu; West Career & Technical Academy; Las Vegas – July 3, 2020:

Such participles whose corresponding verbs are intransitive verbs. We usually do not say an arrived girl, a departed friend, etc., because they come from their intransitive verbs. However, a past participle deriving from such an intransitive verb can be used as adjective as long as it is premodified by an adverb or adverbial phrase (see 7.3), as in

  • The newly arrived girl from New York is waiting for you downstairs.
  • The gentleman recently arrived in Las Vegas is my former professor, Dr. Palmer.
  • The train just now arrived at the station is from New York.
  • (Not:*The arrived train at the station is from New York, but we can say, “The train which/that arrived at the station is from New York.)
  • I will miss the recently departed friends.
  • Her husband recently returned from USA is an engineer.
  • (Not: *Her husband returned from USA is an engineer.)

Please, can anyone explain to me why “arrived girl” needs an adverb?

  • 4
    I don't think there's an answer apart from "because that's the way it is". Some past participles can be used as attributive adjectives; others cannot. Some participial phrases can be used before their head; others cannot. And the participles in the two cases don't match.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 23:52
  • 3
    Welcome to EL&U. This is an amazingly interesting question! Your first section looks like a quote from a book or website (e.g. "see 7.3"). Could you tell us where it's from? (and which bits are being quoted and which are yours, if possible) Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 23:53
  • 2
    Having not done the kind of minimal research I'd normally do, I'll nonetheless proffer the following insights to get you started. The vast majority of adjectives derived from past participles, and also the vast majority of past participles used to modify nouns, have a passive meaning. So a missed opportunity is one that was missed by someone. There are a very few one-word adjectives derived from participles, though, which are used with a perfective meaning, for example drunk, gone, stopped which all denote the property of being in a state of having drunk, gone, finished, stopped. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 0:35
  • 2
    So, for example, a stopped clock or a stopped car are not usually clocks and cars that somebody or something stopped, but are clocks and cars that stopped by themselves. But notice such adjectives are rare. Therefore, we don't very often see adjectives derived from the PPs of intransitive verbs. These would normally need to have a passive-like meaning, and you can't passivise an intransitive verb! However, it appears that the compound adjectives newly/ recently/ just arrived are members of that elusive set with a perfective meaning, even though arrived is not. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 0:36
  • 3
    But why can some past participles be use by themselves: “an escaped prisoner (= a person who has escaped), an expired lease (= a lease that has expired) a faded flower/curtain (= a flower/curtain that has faded)” but others need adverbs?
    – Piermo
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


The phrase "arrived girl" is a verb in the past tense followed by a noun. In proper English, the noun (the subject) is supposed to go before the verb; therefore, "The girl (subject) arrived (verb)."

Okay, now bear with me...

When you turn it into "the newly arrived girl"; the adverb "newly" combines with the past participle "arrived"; thus turning the entire phrase "newly arrived" into an adjective. Adjectives (descriptions) come before the subject in proper English (i.e. red coat), and so you have "the newly arrived girl".

** Just in Case: past participle = the past (and perfect) tense of a verb. For example, raised, painted, or arrived. Please feel free to google "adverb + past participle" if you're still feeling unsure!! **

  • Hello, Carolyn. A recently painted wall. A painted lady. Recently raised wages. Raised awareness. You can see why OP is confused. He is asking "Why is arrived not one of those past participles that has an adjectival intercategorial polyseme (ie why can't it be converted to an attributive adjective)?" Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 15:31

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