please help me check these two sentences are grammatical or not

The loudly boiling water is very noisy.

The man swimming very fast is my teacher!

My grammar book told me that participle phrases should be put after the nouns, single participle should be put before the nouns.

So are these two sentences correct?

Thanks very much for your help!

  • They are grammatical, though not especially natural. In your first example, "loudly boiling" is a verb phrase premodifying the noun "water". In the second, "swimming fast" is a participial clause postmodifying the noun "man". Participial clauses are semantically similar to relative clauses, cf. "The man who is swimming fast ...".
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 17:37
  • I agree that they are both grammatically correct. The first one strikes me as redundant, because it identifies the water as loud and then states that it is noisy. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 17:49
  • Thanks so much for your help! But why is it redundant? Can't we say the boiling water is quite noisy?
    – moyeea
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


It is not true that adjectival participle clauses in general cannot precede the noun they modify. Such pre-position is acceptable if any elements modifying the participle fall before it:

okThe loudly boiling water ...
okThe rapidly swimming man ...
okA highly respected teacher ...

What is almost always required is that a participle clause in which the participle is followed by its own modifier or complement must be placed after the noun the clause modifies.

# The boiling loudly water ... → okThe water boiling loudly ...
# The swimming rapidly man ... → okThe man swimming rapidly ...
# A highly respected by his students teacher ... → okA teacher highly respected by his students ...

This is true not just of participles but any adjectival:

okThe available resources ... but
# The available to us resources ... → okThe resources available to us ...

# designates an unacceptable utterance

  • Thanks so much for your kind help! In this way, we can say: The totally broken glass or The glass broken totally(but the second one sounds more like a reduced passive sentence) "broken totally" is a phrase. The rule is single participle should be put before nouns, phrases should be put after nouns. But I still saw some single participles can be put after nouns. e.g.: Do you know the books ordered? They decided to change the materials used(they are not phrases right? if they are added with adverbs they are more acceptable, right?)
    – moyeea
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:18
  • @moyeea You've got a good handle on it. By and large we avoid putting adjectivals with leading but no following dependents after the noun, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule: some adjectives and participles are routinely postposed. And passive participles with only adverb modifiers (totally broken) tend to precede the noun. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:30
  • Thanks so much! But if I say "broken totally" it should be after the nouns am I right? like "the man swimming fast" Besides, "broken" can work as an adjective. In this way, it can be put before nouns, and can be modified with an adverb so we can say" a broken glass". It depends on the world if it is more like an adjective or an adverb. Am I right? Thanks a million!!
    – moyeea
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:49
  • @moyeea You have it exactly. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 21:50
  • I don't think clauses can function as premodifiers in noun phrases. They are just verb phrases, surely?
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 6:12

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