I think 'People gathered around might discover' in the following sentence is ungrammatical. It should be rewritten as 'People gathering around might discover' People who gathered around might discover.' Do you agree?

People gathered around might discover, in the documents coming off the machine, the write­up of a colleague’s project that’s relevant to their own work, or a new company policy that might affect them.

Source: Who Moved My Cube by Anne-Laure Fayard and John Weeks

1 Answer 1


No. People gathered round is perfectly grammatical.

Gathered here is an adjective, not a passive participle. (You can see this because there is no answer to the question "who were they gathered by?")

I admit that it seems a bit anomalous that the adjective is derived from the past participle but does not have a passive meaning (unlike adjectives like "written" and "seen"). But it is not the only one: gone, grown, and rotten are similarly used without a passive meaning.

  • What's wrong with taking it as a participle here? They were gathered by agreement, or by curiosity; it's not important. Sep 20, 2019 at 19:30
  • @AntonSherwood: Curiosity gathered them? An agreement gathered them? Not in my version of English.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 20, 2019 at 22:27
  • How do you feel about “curiosity brought them”? Sep 20, 2019 at 22:29
  • @AntonSherwood: that one's fine. But "curiosity gathered them" is unnaturally poetic for me.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 20, 2019 at 22:39
  • Why don't the OP's just accept good answers? It clutters up the system so and the questions keep coming back around. Grhhh.
    – Lambie
    Jul 4, 2020 at 18:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .