What we usually refer to as ‘-ing’ form has different names. It is also called present participle or gerund. Of course, there is a difference and it is good to know that difference. But, here, for the sake of convenience, we are not bothered about what its name is. We think only of what it does. We use it mostly in continuous sentences.
We are familiar with ‘past participle’, or at least we all know it by the other name, ‘the third form of the verb’. So, when we consider eat, we know that eat is present, ate is past and eaten is past participle. For many words, the past and the past participle are different. The past participle usually ends in ‘-en’ as in broken, shaken, taken. But in a lot of other words there is no difference between the past and the past participle. For example, verbs like kill, boil, furnish. All modern words follow this pattern.
We use the past participle of a verb mostly in passive voice sentences.
Both participles, the present participle (the ‘-ing’ form) and the past participle are useful when we have to combine sentences.
Please keep in mind that the ‘ing’ form of ‘is are am was and were’ is ‘being’ and that of ‘had’ is ‘having’.
Now, let’s have some fun. Look at the following sequence of events.
He sat under a tree.
He heard a sound.
He got up.
He looked around.
He saw a snake.
He got scared.
Sitting under a tree, he heard a sound. Hearing a sound, he got up. Getting up, he looked around. Looking around, he saw a snake. Seeing the snake, he got scared.
Sounds tight, though not very good because too much of anything is good for nothing. Still, this could be used as a model for the next practice exercise.
He heard the alarm.
He woke up.
He turned off the alarm.
He got off the bed.
He looked for his towel.
He found his towel.
He draped it around his shoulder.
He went to the bath room.
Can you do the same? See whether you can relate a whole day’s experience like this.
Combine using a participle (an ‘ –ing’ form)
He opened the door. He went in and sat down.
He found his revolver. He loaded it.
The people gave him their full support. They elected him.
He was walking in the forest. He saw a wild elephant.
I finished my work. I went for a walk.
I found it very hot and sultry. I remained in my room.
I was very busy. I couldn’t meet them. (Remember to use ‘being.)
He decided to go home. He bought a ticket.
He staggered back. He fell to the ground.
We started early. We arrived at noon.
This structure is very useful when we have the same subject in both sentences and when we want to show ‘fast action’ while telling a story.
How can we slow down the action? We can slow down the action by using ‘having’ in the first sentence.
1. He finished his job. He collected his things to go home.
2. He learned a good lesson. He decided not to repeat his mistake.
3. He saw the enemy approaching. He prepared to meet him.
4. She calculated the price correctly. She found it easy to bargain.
5. I prepared my breakfast. I waited for my brother to arrive.
6. I enjoyed my time there. I found it hard to leave.
7. She prepared properly for the exam. She found it easy.
8. I left my clothes to dry. I went back to take another dip in the river.
In all these sentences, we use the subject only once to avoid repetition. Both sentences have the same subject. However, if they have different subjects we need to keep both of them.
So, it is a mistake to convert,
It was a rainy day. I took an umbrella.
Being a rainy day, I took an umbrella.* (This sounds like I was a ‘rainy day’)
‘It’ is the subject of the first sentence and ‘I’ is the subject of the second sentence. We need to keep both.
It being a rainy day, I took an umbrella.
Let’s try some exercises:
1. He was tired. I helped him walk.
2. The teacher was absent. We went to the library.
3. The selection committee was dishonest. I didn’t get that job.
4. The book was boring. I gave it back.
5. It was a hot day. I turned on the ac.
If the first sentence of a sequence is in passive voice, it will sound better if you combine the sentences using this construction. Try it here:
1. He was brought up in another country. He is not familiar with out customs.
2. The plan was rejected by most of the members. It had to be shelved for some time.
3. Pure water was marketed as an elixir for cold. It sold like hot cakes.
4. The song was composed by A R Rahman. It had all it takes to be popular.
4. The document was written in invisible ink. It had to be sent to the lab to make the letters appear.
5. The garlic in the plate was crushed and roasted. It had a distinct flavour and aroma.
Take random sentence sequences that you see in newspapers and test whether it is possible to improve them using these structures. Try to use them in your every day speech and writing too.
Saying that we will call it a day!