1. The children heard the birds singing their morning songs.
2. They saw the farmer boy driving the cows to pasture.
3. The sheep, grazing in the pasture, stopped to look at them.
4. Even the daisies, growing by the roadside, seemed to nod a good-morning to them.
Let us study carefully the meaning of the words sing-ing, driving, grazing, and growing, in the above sentences.
Singing shows us that the birds were doing something, and in this respect expresses action, yet it makes no assertion about the birds. It also governs the direct object, songs. Its force as a verb form is therefore very clear to us.
Singing is also descriptive of the birds. It modifies the meaning of the birds by giving us a new idea about them. In this respect it is like an adjective. We think of the birds as singing.
Forms of the verb that have also the force of adjectives, are called participles.
A participle is a form of the verb that partakes also of the nature of an adjective.
If we study the words driving, grazing, and growing in the same way, we shall see that they express action, and also modify the words with which they are connected, like adjectives. We can think of the boy as driving, the sheep as grazing,and the daisies as growing. We know, therefore, that driving, grazing, and growing are participles.
We also notice that singing, driving, grazing, and growing show that the action expressed by them is present, is still going on, at the time mentioned.
A present participle is a participle that expresses an action or condition as still in progress.
1. Swimming is healthful exercise.
2. Boys enjoy swimming.
In these sentences swimming is a verbal noun.