Ron's eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting to be unwrapped.

(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Is the highlighted part a participial construction? – its semantic subject is Ron’s eyes; the subject of to-infinitive is Chocolate Frogs and omitted because we know that. Or is it just modifying the previous noun – Chocolate Frogs? Or both?

1 Answer 1


Indeed it is a participial construction.

The subject of the sentence is Ron's eyes; but the subject of the verbal waiting is either pile or Chocolate Frogs. I'd vote here for Chocolate Frogs, since a pile of confections is unlikely to be wrapped.

So this sentence employs a participial construction to combine two propositions:

  • Ron's eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs.
  • The Chocolate Frogs were waiting to be unwrapped.

(Actually, the real sense of the second proposition is probably something more like The Chocolate Frogs appeared to Ron's greedy eyes to be waiting to be unwrapped - but that is a Literary Critical inference.)

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