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My grammar book told me that when a participle functions as an adjective, normally it should be used before nouns. But I still saw some sentences like:

The experience gained will be of great value to us.

They decided to change the material used. (And they also said, the meaning is different with the prepositive"used" here means something which is used nowadays, but the prepositive one means second-hand)

When can we put participles after nouns and these different meanings of participles can be predicatives?

  • Past participle verbs postmodifying nouns are non-finite clauses, not adjectives, not predicatives. So in your first example "gained" is a past-participial clause postmodifying "experience". Past-participial modifiers are 'bare' passives as evident from the admissibility of a by phrase in complement function. Semantically they are similar to relative clauses, cf. "The experience which was gained ..." The same applies to "used"; as a postmodifier it's a verb heading a past-participial clause modifying "materials". As an adjective, "used" is unusual in having a secondary meaning, second-hand – BillJ Aug 22 '16 at 19:09
  • @BillJ The Wikipedia article is less decisive: "Present and past participles exhibit this behavior, as in all those entering should ..., one of the men executed was ..., but this may be considered to be a verbal rather than adjectival use (a kind of reduced relative clause). (emphasis mine.) – P. E. Dant Aug 22 '16 at 21:32
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Past participle verbs postmodifying nouns are non-finite clauses, not adjectives, not predicatives. So in your first example "gained" is a past-participial clause postmodifying "experience". Past-participial modifiers are 'bare' passives as evident from the admissibility of a by phrase in complement function. Semantically they are similar to relative clauses, cf. "The experience which was gained ..." The same applies to "used"; as a postmodifier it's a verb heading a past-participial clause modifying "materials". As an adjective, "used" is unusual in having a secondary meaning, second-hand.

  • Thanks so much for your kind help! But I still saw some examples which the participles can be predicatives and postpositive modifiers. Like :involved: We can say people involved or be involved in politics Besides we can say "a used car" but if "used" is a predicative, how can we define the meaning it is second-hand or just used nowadays(like methods used) – moyeea Aug 22 '16 at 20:43
  • @moyeea - Used is a special case. English speakers deduce the meaning from context, and there isn't a rule to help you here. Your question about involved is interesting. Do you mean a sentence such as There is something special about the people involved. ..? This seems to me an ellipsis of who are, and not an example of a postpositive participle. But I am always prepared to be wrong here. – P. E. Dant Aug 23 '16 at 1:49
  • @moyeea I'm not sure why you are keep using the term 'predicative'. The constructions we've looked at exhibit either postmodifying past-participial clauses,or adjectives as premodifiers, but not adjectives used predicatively as in "Ed is nice/fat/tall" and so on – BillJ Aug 23 '16 at 9:03
  • Thanks so much for your kind help! Because sometimes the meaning changed...Like "a used car" and "a car used" If I say "This car is used" it means "This a second-hand car" or" the car is just used?" Thanks so much! – moyeea Aug 23 '16 at 13:13
  • @moyea I see. In many cases, the adjectival meaning has a very close connection to the verbal one: "The floors were tiled and carpeted" (adj) ~ "The floors, tiled and carpeted..." (clause). But some nouns simply resist premodification by participial adjectives. As pointed out, "used" is special since in some cases the adjectival meaning (second-hand) is different to the verbal one (consumed). It's just something you have to learn as you go along. – BillJ Aug 23 '16 at 15:03

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