Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
Here we see verbals--forms of verbs that perform like other parts of speech--as well as strings of prepositional phrases locating the action in time and/or space. Here the verbals are "sitting" and "drinking," both present participles ending in -ing, both of which modify the "barefoot girl." They aren't verbs, and the two lines aren't a complete sentence, but the picture is alive and vivid, thanks to the present participles. And Bruce doesn't have any dangling participles here, either--the first one, "sitting," is snug up against the noun it modifies, "girl." The second comes right after "Dodge," but thanks to the parallel structure, it doesn't dangle; we know it's not the Dodge that's drinking but the girl.
How about analyzing a few lines from Bruce's "Badlands," the opening song on Darkness?
Workin' in the fields till you get your back burned
Workin' 'neath the wheel till you get your facts learned
Baby, I got my facts learned real good right now
Where are the participles here? Which are present, which are past? What other syntactical elements do these lines share with the lines from "Jungleland"? What other facts about participles have you learned real good?
Ellen Scordato has 25 years' book publishing experience as an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and managing editor. She's now a partner in The Stonesong Press, a nonfiction book producer and agency. In addition to her work at Stonesong, Ellen has taught grammar, punctuation, and style at the New School for more than 12 years in the English Language Studies department and taught English as a Second Language at Cabrini Immigrant Services.
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