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“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats

I think the words marked in bold are a participle phrase. The adverb patiently modifies the present participle[?] waiting. Is this all correct?

Do you have any hints to figure out the grammatical status of a phrase more rapidly and consistently?

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    You have it exactly right. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 23 '15 at 4:15
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    Actually it is a shortened relative clause: things (that are) waiting for our senses to grow sharper – rogermue Jul 23 '15 at 11:23
  • waiting is the participle. The entire phrase in bold is the participle phrase. Since there is an --ing ending on the infinitive form of the verb wait, that makes it a present participle. It is also a misplaced participle which means it is in a position where the reader does not clearly know which word it is modifying. Is it modifying "things" or is it modifying "world"? To correct it, move the entire phrase closer to the word it is meant to modify: Patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper, the world is full of magic things. – Arch Denton Sep 12 '16 at 5:23
  • There are two kinds of participle phrases: Present Participle and Past Participle. A participle phrase acts like an adjective. And, yes to your question about patiently modifying waiting. Study these links: grammar-monster.com/glossary/participles.htm || ell.stackexchange.com/questions/62488/… || grammar-monster.com/glossary/present_participle.htm || grammar-monster.com/glossary/past_participles.htm – Arch Denton Sep 12 '16 at 5:31
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Do you have any hints to figure out the grammatical status of a phrase more rapidly and consistently?

It is something of a chicken-and-egg scenario, but someone who is learning English, and is trying to understand that sentence from Yeats, could approach it in terms of its clauses, and then "drill down" into the phrases that comprise the clauses.

First the main clause, which can stand on its own without help from any other clause:

The world is full of magic things...

That is a fairly simple predication with "is". The world is full. What is the world full of? Magic things. There are many magic things in the world.

and then the relative clause:

...patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

To what do we attach "patiently"? To the world, or to the things? To the things. Those magic things wait patiently.

The present participle in a relative clause might be understood as a variant of a "which-clause" with the simple present:

The world is full of magic things which wait patiently...
The world is full of magic things waiting patiently... (or patiently waiting)

There is an "invisible" or "implicit" predicate of sorts there: things wait.

He looked at the old cabin sitting in the clearing.

The cabin sits in the clearing.

What or whom are those magical things waiting for?

They are waiting for our senses.

What does it mean, to wait for our senses? It is almost meaningless. Without the infinitive phrase, it does not make much sense:

...to grow sharper

Those magic things are waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

She was waiting for the celebrating.
She was waiting for the celebrating to begin.

When our senses grow sharper, we will be able to see and hear the many magic things that fill the world.

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