Reading Participial Phrases
Treating a participle as a simple adjective is one approach. All too often, however, that approach leads to awkward, stilted phrasing, as in this last example. A remedy for this is to remove the Latin participial phrase and expand it into a whole clause in English. There are five different types of clauses you can use. Each type suggests a certain relationship between a participial phrase and the main clause that it is a part of. As usual, context is your best guide.
The simple adjective approach plus the five different types of clauses give us six possible ways to read or translate a sentence containing a participial phrase. Here is a fresh example for us to work with. You are probably familiar with it — it is the traditional greeting gladiators used to give to the sponsor of games before the games began: Nī s moritū rī tē salutā mus.
Simple adjective: We, about to die, salute you.
Relative clause: We,
whoare about to die, salute you.
Temporal clause: As/
Whenwe are about to die, we salute you.
Since/Becausewe are about to die, we salute you.
Coordinate clause: We are about to die
andwe salute you.
Even thoughwe are about to die, we salute you (anyway).
In these translations, the words that represent the participial phrase are in italics. The words in boldface are the keywords — usually conjunctions — that make a clause the type that it is.
When you read a participial phrase in a temporal (tempus, temporis, “time”) sense, be mindful of the relative time value of the tenses of participles.
Present (same time): Nīs morientēs tē salutā mus. (While we are dying, we salute you.)
Perfect (time before): Nīs mortuī tē salutā re nīn poterimus. (After we die, we won't be able to salute you.)
Future (time after): Nīs moritū rī tē salutā mus. (Before we die, we salute you.)
Also noteworthy is that with concessive clauses, you will almost always find the word tamen (“anyway”) in the main clause. Remember that this was also true for concessive cum clauses.
It is very important to remember that since a participial phrase serves a function in the main clause, its removal cannot be complete. That is to say, you have to put a pronoun in the main clause to take its place. If you look closely at the sample translations above, you will notice that there is a “we” in the main clause standing in for the nīs moritū rī that had been removed to make a new clause.
Single word participles used as substantives are not phrases. They are both nouns and participles at the same time. Earlier you read the awkward example: Collā