Sentence Fluency: Using Participial Phrases

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12621

If your sentences are short and dull, you can add a lot of words to them, but they should add to the sense of the sentence. Don't pollute the stream of your writing; keep fresh with these verb forms!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Do you enjoy watching the flowing waterfalls? Is it more fun than staring at a stagnant puddle? Which would you compare your writing to? Which would your readers compare to your writing?

  • Do you like being out in nature, experiencing the quiet peace it brings?

This river began upriver and is flowing over the rocks until it comes to rest in what may appear to be a still pool. It is not still however, but it is still flowing downriver, taking branches and whatever else it may contact along its journey.

When you write, you want your sentences to flow like the river. They will build in intensity like the rapids over the rocks, but they will keep flowing if you incorporate different strategies to improve your writing.

Using participial phrases to expand your sentences is one of these strategies.

Before you continue, if you overlooked or would like to review the previous Sentence Fluency lessons, find them in the right-hand sidebar under Related Lessons.

  • First, what is a participle?

A participle is a word that is typically used as a verb, usually ends in "-ed" or "-ing," and is used as an adjective that modifies a noun in a sentence. A participial phrase contains the participle and any modifiers that go with it.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch participle phrases, from MUHSonline, write down the definition of "participle" and "participial phrase." Write at least one example of each:


A participial phrase may come before or after the noun it modifies. For example, in the following sentence, the participial phrase comes after the noun “students”:

  • The students, studying the lesson carefully, tried to understand the purpose of the Civil War.

In the next sentence, the participial phrase comes before the noun “teacher”:

  • Dedicated to his task, their teacher tried to help them.

In the first sentence, the word “studying” is the participle and “the lesson carefully” is the rest of the participial phrase.

In the second sentence, “dedicated” is the participle and “to his task” is the rest of the participial phrase. You may have noticed the participial phrase is separated from the sentence with commas — this is important because it is not a necessary part of the sentence but is there to give more information about the noun it is modifying.

Remember, a participial phrase begins with a verb form that ends in "-ed" or "-ing," and the noun it modifies is near the participial phrase.

Practice finding participial phrases in the Got It? section.

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.