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Why can we use waiting (present participle) with grew (past simple)?

The children, waiting for the play to begin, grew bored.

Sentence is from Participial Phrase Worksheet at Sinclair.edu.

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The first part of the sentence does NOT mean:

The children **are waiting** for the play to begin.

Instead it should be understood as:

While the children were waiting for the play to begin, they grew bored.

You can rewrite the sentence and not change its meaning to:

The children were waiting for the play to begin but grew bored.

  • Stoney:B replied to a similar question and gave an answer here – Mari-Lou A Jun 13 '13 at 9:12
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Despite the name, the present participle doesn't express something happening in the present, nor does it alter a phrase expressing something happening in the present.

Participial phrases like the following can be used to alter a phrase talking of the past.

Taking the ferry across the harbor, I saw the Statue of Liberty come into view.

You could rephrase it as follows.

When I took the ferry across the harbor, I saw the Statue of Liberty come into view.

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This sentence shows the use of a non-essential participial phrase. I have the non-essential participial phrase from the original sentence in italics to better show the sentence construction.

The children, waiting for the play to begin, grew bored.

Structure: Subject + , + non-essential participial phrase + , + verb.

The confusion you face is because the pronoun-verb pair who were is implied in the sentence rather than explicitly written, as is often the case for non-essential participial phrases. Here I have included it in bold and you can more clearly see the meaning of the sentence.

The children, who were waiting for the play to begin, grew bored.

Resources for non-essential phrases:
Perdue Commas with Nonessential Elements
Essential and Non-Essential Participial Phrases Introduction

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