Consider the following sentence:

The Bactrian camel is well adapted to the extreme climate of its native Mongolia, having thick fur and underwool that keep it warm in winter and also insulate against summer heat.

My question is about the italicized part. My usage of English is grounded mostly in “what feels right” and not in solid grammar knowledge, so I am struggling with this one. I have been using such structure quite frivolously myself, but I never knew an ‘official’ name for it, nor when it is appropriate. Here is a generic example:

Bob is a great guy, wanting to do great things no matter what the circumstances are.

Is this correct? What is this -ing ‘thing’ called, if it has a name? Could you briefly list when it is or isn’t appropriate to use a verb+ing form, perhaps noting the most common misuses or mistakes?

  • I'm trying to think how we can clarify the title so it is obvious from looking at it what the question is about. As far as grammatical mistakes, I can find none. You have very good English.
    – Luke_0
    Aug 8, 2012 at 18:53
  • Two easy steps for future reference. Having: "present participle of have"; participle: "a word that shares some characteristics of both verbs and adjectives. It can be used in compound verb tenses or voices (periphrasis), or as a modifier. A phrase composed of a participle and other words is a participle phrase." Cheers.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 8, 2012 at 19:03
  • While your first example is not confusing, some would suggest that you phrase it "The Bactrian Camel, having thick fur . . ., is well adapted . . . ." This would avoid any suggestion that the having phrase is a misplaced modifier, incorrectly referring to Mongolia.
    – bib
    Aug 8, 2012 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


It’s called a participial phrase, specifically one using the present not the past participle. If you want more than that, you’ll have to chase down all about VPs (verb phrases) in English.

  • You beat me to the answer. +1
    – Luke_0
    Aug 8, 2012 at 18:49

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