In this sentence, is the past participle of ‘clasped’ in ‘with his hands clasped over his fat bottom’ to be changed to ‘clasping’?

He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley — there was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig's tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

  • Barrie's answer is correct so I don't have anything new to add, but I'm confused by the question. This is an excerpt from one of the Harry Potter books - what do you mean "is the past participle to be changed to present participle"? Nov 12, 2012 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


No. Clasped is what is required here, but clasping would be possible if over was omitted.

  • Can you please elaborate? Nov 12, 2012 at 14:06
  • 2
    He had clasped his hands over his seat, so the participle (doing the work of an adjective here) is clasped. You could also say that he was clasping his seat, but not 'over his seat'. Nov 12, 2012 at 14:13
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    Here, clasped has to be parsed as an adjective (modifying hands), because the verb clasp is transitive, and needs a direct object. You can't use clasping without a direct object. So clasping his fat bottom would be fine, but clasping over it is ungrammatical. (Although to clasp on something is grammatical, with clasp on being a phrasal verb meaning to attach with a clasp. So with his hands clasping on his fat bottom would be grammatical, but would mean something quite different.) Nov 12, 2012 at 16:25

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