Participle clauses

Participle clauses are a form of adverbial clause which enables us to say information in a more economical way. We can use participle clauses when the participle and the verb in the main clause have the same subject. For example:

Waiting for John, I made some tea.

Waiting for John, the kettle boiled. [This would suggest that the kettle was waiting for John!]

 

Forming participle clauses

Participle clauses can be formed with the present participle (-ing form of the verb) or past participle (third form of the verb). Participle clauses with past participles have a passive meaning:

Shouting loudly, Peter walked home. [Peter was shouting]

Shouted at loudly, Peter walked home. [Someone was shouting at Peter]

If we wish to emphasise that one action was before another then we can use a perfect participle (having + past participle):

Having won the match, Susan jumped for joy.

Having been told the bad news, Susan sat down and cried.

 

 

The meaning and use of participle clauses

Participle clauses give information about condition, result, reason or time. For example:

 

CONDITION (with a similar meaning to an if-condition):

Looked after carefully, this coat will keep you warm through many winters.

Compare: If you look after it carefully, this coat will keep you warm through many winters.

 

RESULT (with a similar meaning to so or therefore):

The bomb exploded, destroying the building.

Compare: The bomb exploded so the building was destroyed.

 

REASON (with a similar meaning to because or since):

I had no time to read my book, having spent so long doing my homework.

Compare: I had no time to read my book because I had spent so long doing my homework.

 

TIME (with a similar meaning to words like when, while or as soon as):

Sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home.

Compare: While I was sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home.

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hi Mdanesh,

Participle clauses can be used to speak about different times, but clauses with a present participle tend to speak about two actions that are concurrent or at least very close in time. If they are not, there is usually some clue about the time in the sentence.

In your first example, for example, I'd suggest using 'having' and an adverbial clause ('Having revised for a couple of weeks before the exam, Tom got a high mark.'), which make the sequence of actions clear. Similarly, for your second example, I'd suggest using 'after': 'After revising for a couple of weeks, Tom will get a high mark'.

Please note that participle clauses are not normally used in informal speaking and writing, so in most cases you'd hear something more like 'Tom got a high mark because he revised for two weeks before the exam' or 'Tom should get a high mark if he revises for a couple of weeks before the exam'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Please check!

Participle clause-

I went to the market, wanting to buy grocery.

Hi Rox4090,

Yes, that's the idea, though normally the participle clause comes first. It's also a bit unusual in informal speech -- this sounds rather more informal than formal. Finally, 'grocery' should be plural.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks,

If you study hard, you will pass the test with flying colors.

Studied hard, you will pass the test.
Or
Studying hard, you will pass the test.

Please explain that which one is correct particlple and why it is correct.

I have tried to use the participle for a condition and I am trying to get a knack of it.

Regards,
Rox

Hi Rox,

In this case, 'studied' is not correct because it has a passive meaning, whereas here clearly the person is studying (i.e. the verb is active). The second one (with 'studying') is grammatical, but in general I wouldn't recommend using a participle clause to speak about the future because it's quite unusual, though I understand here you're just trying to get a sense for how they work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Peter M & Kirk!

Good day! Hope both of you are doing well!

I need a bit clarification from you regarding the following sentence:

Economists often criticize rent control, arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living.

What is the meaning of participle clause 'arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living' in the above sentence? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause?

It would be highly appreciated if you could enlighten me with your valuable comments on it.

Hello learner2018,

The participle clause explains the main clause here, telling us how the main action is done: Economists often criticise rent control by arguing that...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Peter M & Kirk!

Good day! I came across the following sentence while reading my economics text:

In our example, free trade in textiles would cause the price of textiles to fall, reducing the quantity of textiles produced in Iceland and thus reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry.

I think the participle clause 'reducing the quantity of textiles produced' demonstrates the result of the main clause 'the price of textiles to fall'. Is it reasonable to think?

My second question is: the usage of 'and thus' with the participle clause 'reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry' is correct? If it is correct, what type of clause 'and thus reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry' would be?

It would be highly appreciated from my end, if you could enlighten me with your valuable comments on the aforementioned issues.

Hello learner2018,

You are correct: the clause beginning 'reducing...' shows the result of the main clause. A second result is given in a parallel clause ('...reducing...'), which is joined with the co-ordinating conjunction 'and'.

'Thus' is an adverb and does not change the structure of the sentence here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter M,

Good day! Thank you so much for your previous comments on some issues which I got confused about. However, I need your valuable comments on the following two sentences regarding the meaning of participle clauses:

1. Economists often criticize rent control, arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living.

What is the meaning of participle clause 'arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living' in the above sentence? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause?

2. For low levels of quantity supplied, the elasticity of supply is high, indicating that firms respond substantially to changes in the price.

What is the meaning of participle clause 'indicating that firms respond substantially to changes in the price'? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause?

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