I am sorry for giving you a lot of hassle trying to explain me those phrases, but they are material for me. Accordingly, some of my future post will be devoted to this issue. Can I please you to bear with me and help me here:

1. Does the non-restrictive appositive phrase mean the same (does it play the same role in other words) as parenthetical element?
2. What is the difference between gerund and participial phrases when the other one acts as a present participle?

Thank you very much in advance
Best regards
1 2
Hi camilus,

Allow me to comment on the second question first.

As a gerund and a present participle take the same form appearing with a verb + ing, they may be a bit confusing if you judge them only by their looks. Yet, their functions are quite different from each other.

1.Present Participle

A Sleeping Baby: This phrase describes a baby sleeping. Therefore, you can compose a sentence with this in mind as “A baby is sleeping.” “Sleeping” in this case is called a present participle.

2. Gerund

A Walking Stick: In this example, you don’t expect a stick to walk. A cane is the meaning this phrase conveys. Naturally, you cannot write as is in the present participle, such as “A stick is walking.” “Walking “ in this particular description is quite different from “sleeping” as illustrated above. The appearances are deceiving. In addition, the individual functions are poles apart. This is called a gerund. A “sleeping” bag is another example of a gerund. Again, a bag is not sleeping, but is designed for sleeping.

For the first question, could you provide an example sentence? That would make my job much simpler. Thank you.


Thank you a lot for your help, Mirapence.

I Appositives vs. Parenthetical Element

Do the following examples of non-restrictive appositives act as parenthetical elements?To be more precise, can I call non-restricitive appositives parenthetical elements?

a) Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the moon, is a native of Ohio.
b) Jeff's ambition, to become a famous footballer, is within his reach.

II Gerund Phrase vs. Participial Phrase

I found examples on a couple of web sites on which they were described as follows:
Note: Phrases are underlined.

Flying above the lake at this time of night seems a little dangerous. (gerund phrase)

Running down the street, Alicia tripped and fell. (participial phrase)

Cramming for tests is not a good idea. (gerund phrase)

Working around the clock, the firefighters finally put out the last of the California brush fires. (participial phrase)

I guess to catch on what you meant in your reply. However, can you help me understand the difference between Participal and Gerund Phrases in previously-mentioned sentences, because I can't seem to tell it.

III Phrases Classification

Mirapence, I feel fairly confused about phrases; they are not plain sailing to me. I have found a couple of web sites explaining their classifcation, but it characterized with big diversity. Some of them included Noun Phrases and Verb Phrases, but some didn't. Does the classification depend on how we consider phrases? I mean if we treat them as they don't have both predicate and noun, Noun and Verb phrases shouldn't be taken into account. Could you provide me with the frequently used classification and tell me how you feel about them?

Thank you very much in advance
Best regards.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hi Camilus,

You've given me a lot of homework. it weighs on my back, but it never is the last straw. Fortunately, my back is strong enough.Emotion: smile

I Appositives vs. Parenthetical Element

a) Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the moon, is a native of Ohio.

Here, “the first man who walked on the moon” is, as you already know, a noun phrase acting as an appositive. Though you rid this sentence of this noun phrase, the meaning does not change significantly. Therefore, you may as well treat it as a parenthetical element.

b) Jeff's ambition, to become a famous footballer, is within his reach.

Again, “to become a famous footballer” is an appositive phrase all right, but this time it's an infinitive phrase and to be exact, an adjective phrase that modifies “ambition”. Some say that this phrase in this case is a modifier essential to the meaning. Removing it may more or less influence the meaning. But there are others voicing different opinions. I'd like to adhere to keeping the phrase.

*”footballer”; did you just quote it or is it your own vocabulary? Just curious.
In my part of the world, we call them football players.Emotion: smile

II Gerund Phrase vs. Participial Phrase

FLYING ABOVE THE LAKE at this time of night seems a little dangerous. (gerund phrase)

A gerund is an embodiment of a verb and a noun all together, but in reality acts like a noun. ”Flying above the lake” is a noun phrase, and at the same time the subject of this sentence. Naturally, “flying” is an unmistakable gerund.

RUNNING DOWN THE STREET, Alicia tripped and fell. (participial phrase)

Yes, “Running down the street”, here, is a participial phrase. How do I know? You can assume without much difficulty that this is a shortened form from an adverbial clause. Namely, “As she was running down the street” should be the archetype.

She was running, and she is 'a running girl'. Remember the way I explained before (i.e. a sleeping baby)? It is easy to find out. You can apply the same principle to the rest of sentences as well.

Cramming for tests is not a good idea. (gerund phrase)

Working around the clock, the firefighters finally put out the last of the California brush fires. (participial phrase)

III Phrases Classification

You are forcing me a hard labor. haha,,

I may need much time and a considerable cyber space of this board to explain all the classification in detail. I’m afraid I can’t do it all at the moment, but I am going to give you the principal idea about them. You may come back again and again, and I’d be happy to help you. Only some basics for today.

Depending on linguists, the terms they use widely vary. Some people jokingly say there are as many terms as the number of grammarians. Couldn’t I have mine in my own right? I dare not! But I will follow some of the most common and conventional classifications.

Let me make a few simple sentences to make them easy to compare with each other.

1. Adverbial Phrase

There are many books ON THE TABLE.

The phrase “on the table” is classified as an adverbial.
It modifies the verb. Let me rephrase it this way. Many books are ON THE TABLE. The relation between the verb, “are” and the phrase, “on the table” becomes very conspicuous.

2. Adjective Phrase

For convenience’s sake, I am using a similarly worded expression.

The books ON THE TABLE are all mine.

The phrase retains the same shape, but the function of it is quite different.
This phrase, “on the table” is modifying “the books”. One of the functions of adjectives is modifying the nouns. Thus, “on the table” in this particular situation is called an adjective phrase.

*Some linguists classify such phrases including adverbials and adjectives as prepositional phrases.

3. Noun Phrase

ORGANIZING THE BOOKS on the table is a piece of cake.

As I mentioned above, a gerund is considered as a noun. This phrase, “Organizing the books” is essentially a collection of nouns. Together, they form the subject of the sentence. As you know, only nouns and pronouns are eligible for subjects.

There are so may other patterns and different variants that need to be explained, but one step at a time is sometimes the more efficient way of learning. That is about all for today. Camilus, I thank you for asking me. Expecting more from you, see ya!

Mirapence, your help is just priceless!!! I'm really sorry for having given you so much labour; I defiinitely overdid. I am, however, very thankful for your explanation. After this "injection of knowledge" you gave me, I decided go on phrases and hope to get through them with your help.

I Phrases Classification

Last night I put my shoulder to the wheel and studied those phrases deeply. After some analysis I finally arrived at some conclusions; nonetheless, I'm conscious of the fact that what you find below is nothing but a pile of rubbish. Could you please comment on that then?

As far as I know phrases classification depends on how we treat them. If we take phrases as the group of releated words that lack both subject and predicate, accordingly, during our classification Noun and Verb Phrases shall not be taken into account.

Taking the heed of all pros and cons I came to the following classifications:

1. Phrase hasn't got both subject and verb

a) Participial Phrase
b) Preopsitional Phrase (included Adverb and Adjective Phrases)
c) Gerund Phrase
d) Appositive Phrase

2. Phrase has got subject, but it lacks verb

a) Participial Phrase
b) Preopsitional Phrase (included Adverb and Adjective Phrases)
c) Gerund Phrase
d) Appositive Phrase
e) Noun Phrase

3. Phrase has got verb, but it lacks subject

a) Participial Phrase
b) Preopsitional Phrase (included Adverb and Adjective Phrases)
c) Gerund Phrase
d) Appositive Phrase
e) Verb Phrase
f) Infinitive Phrase

I've also found something called Absolute Phrase, but I don't know yet how it works. Please bear with me, but as to what you wrote Gerund Phrase may act as a Noun Phrase, right?

II Others

Mirapence, I see you're a man who knows: what, where, when, and how. Could you give me a list of books that you consider to be helpful and essential to prepare for CAE/CPE exams. Publications regarding English grammar; English speaking country culture, history, politics; and things like phrases and clauses would also be welcomed.

Thank you very much in advance.
Best regards

P.S. "Footballer" is a British English word for soccer or football player. Since football isn't popular sport in the USA (from which you're descended), this may sound strange to you. If you find that I gave too much to explain, don't exert yourself and answer some things later or divide in a way comfortable for you.
Hi Camilus,

I am glad to hear that I have been of some help to you. You know I was kidding when I said it weighed on my back. On the contrary, I enjoyed answering your questions whether you believe it or not. The only problem that I have is that it is not an easy job for me to allocate enough time for this forum. I ask your understanding for being late for answering your question.

I admire your enthusiasm in learning English! I have no doubt that before long you will be able to command excellent English. Concerning your classifications, I guess you’ve got them right.

For now, I’m going to make a short comment on Absolute Phrases.

Absolute phrases are fundamentally the same as participial phrases except that they have different subjects from the ones in the main sentences, and depending on the situations, they take participles, past or present, or any related modifiers.

And they are always treated as parenthetical elements.

Let me make up an example sentence for the sake of easy explanation.

“After the sun had set, they went outside to enjoy the cool breeze of evening.”

In order to make a participial phrase, you need to remove the conjunction and the subject, and then make a participle out of the verb in the subordinate clause.

In this case, however, you do not have the corresponding subjects in the main and subordinate clauses. You will in no way remove the subject in the subordinate clause; instead, you preserve it, and only make a necessary change to the verb by making it a present participle (or, a past participle if the sentence is in the passive voice.).

As a result, the sentence after a slight touch reads as follows.

“The sun having set, they went outside to enjoy the cool breeze of evening.”

This is a classic example of an absolute phrase. Isn’t it simple!

One more example in passive voice;
“As the homework was nearly finished, he got to thinking what to do next.”

The subordinate clause being in the passive voice, all you need is change the verb into a past participle. Thus, it becomes,

“The homework nearly finished, he got to thinking what to do next.”

There are other variations, but the basic idea is not far from the principle.

As for your last question, I may not be the suitable man who can provide you with accurate information to satisfy all your needs. I am far older than you might think. Furthermore, I no longer have those books with me with which I studied as a young man. On top of everything else, I am lagging way behind the newest publications on this subject. In fact, I majored in phonetics. That, I think I can help you with a lot. I am sorry I should have been more help.

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
I give you immense thanks for your kind words, but I bear in mind that a lot of has yet to be done to make them indeed come true. Pride comes before a fall after all!. Anyway, your help is a one-step forward in improving and understaning English grammar structures. Don't be concerned about the publications. It was an optional question that came in mind on the spur of the moment. I will look for some information on my own, but your step-by-step explanations are significant for me as I don't take part in any courses,; actually, you're the one that should been given a credit here for finding time and bearing with me. Can I ask you for a comment on this:

Absolute Phrases

My in-depth analysis seemes to pay dividends! I was trying to tell the difference among absolute, gerund, and participial phrases, and I guess it indeed led me to some findings. Of course your help on distinguishing participial from gerund phrase was pivotal here! It is all clear to me when I put, of course if possible, "with" before an absolute phrase.

The homework still undone, Jeff can't go outside to play basketball.
(With) the homework still undone, Jeff can't go outside to play basketball.

Thank you very much in advance
Best regards!
How’re you doin’, Camilus!

I am very flattered for being called again to your post.

“The homework still undone, Jeff can't go outside to play basketball.”

Well, the suggested sentence above is the subject of today’s homework. OK, let’s get down to it.

A “with” added before an absolute phrase, the meaning, basically, does not change. With such a minimal difference in structure, what you need is a whole new explanation for it. It is funny, isn’t it? Grammar is supposed to help make sentence structures easy to understand. Contrary to the projected purpose, however, it makes matters further complicated in some isolated instances.

When you add a “with” to the phrase, “the homework still undone”, it is no longer called an absolute phrase. The adverbial phrase is a new name for it. While an absolute phrase has its own subject and a participle (present or past), substantially another form of a verb, this adverbial phrase is a collection of words consisting of a preposition (with) + an object (the homework) + a complement (undone).

What then is the difference between them? Virtually none. As long as you know how to use both expressions, grammar should not work as an obstacle. In case a student might ask you to explain the structural differences, you might as well be prepared to answer him/her. Would that be a good reason? I don’t know. It’s up to you to decide.Emotion: smileThanks.


I'm constantly working on understanding phrases, but I figured that I can't neglect other grammatical apsects like complements and in/transitive verbs. And that's what today's post is devoted to.

Mirapence, I would ask you to comment on some things and then see if what I wrote was later put into practise effectively.

In/Transitive Verbs

Their structures are easily understendable, but I am a little bit confused about Passive Voice. I suspect that all intransitive verbs can't take this form, am I right?


Complements give us more information about the subject (subject complement) and object (object complement).

Is this the right way I interprate the following sentence? What is "to paint" here a second verb, complement or maybe something completely different?

He told me to paint the house red.

He - subject
told - verb
me - indirect object
to paint - ?
house - direct object
red - object complement

Can I also classify it as?
He - subject
told me to paint the house red - predicate


I found a site with a test, but some sentences there made me ask you a question. As to the site, the correct answer in the first sentence is a tree, undeniably they are right, but I guess a road is also a direct object as it is the thing being affected by the verb to skid off.

a) The roads were icy, and the car skidded off the road and hit a tree.

In the second sentence, the site suggests that the correct answer is so much money (correctly), but what about macaroni and cheese?

b) She spent so much money on her vacation, that now she will have to live off macaroni and cheese for a month.

And the final one. The correct is them, can I also take into account dreams and ambitions?

c) He spoke of his dreams and ambitions but never realized them.

Thank you very much in advance
Best regards
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