There was a gap in the hedge with some barbed wire strung across it.

Is the phrase strung across it a participle acting as an adjective to describe barbed wire?

Also, can which was be understood to between wire and strung?

1 Answer 1


In this sentence, you could understand the meaning of "barbed wire strung across it" as "barbed wire which was strung across it".

The phrase "strung across it" does describe "barbed wire". However, the word "strung" would be classified as a participle, and not as an adjective in this construction. English speakers sometimes loosely describe words used this way as "adjectives", but in technical linguistic terminology, not all words that describe (or modify) nouns belong to the category of adjectives.

Adjectives are distinguished from verbal participles by certain criteria: e.g. adjectives but not verbal participles can be modified by "very". I won't describe all of the criteria here because it would take too much space. Although I can't think of a certain way of proving that "strung" is a participle rather than an adjective in your sentence, that is my intuition, based on the meaning of the word.

  • 1
    Yes, and I'd also say that the past-participial clause is a bare passive clause.
    – BillJ
    Feb 23, 2019 at 15:57

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