A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ time by Mrs. Dursley’s scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley… He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!”

(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Is closed a participial or a verb?


This is a simple past, like rolled in the previous sentence and slept further in the sentence. “One small hand closed on the letter beside him.” If you asked for confirmation of that fact, you would say “Did his hand close on the letter beside him”? (Writing “one small hand” rather than “his hand” works the fact that Harry is a frail child into the sentence.)

It would be possible to formulate the same idea with a participial clause, but the sentence would be awkward. “[With] one small hand closed on the letter beside him, he slept on, …” In the text as written by the author, with the word and between the two clauses, the clauses are on the same level and use the same tense.

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