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, reason, result or time. For example:

 

CONDITION (in place of 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.

 

REASON (in place of words like so or therefore):

Wanting to speak to him about the contract, I decided to arrange a meeting.

Compare: I wanted to speak to him about the contract so I decided to arrange a meeting.

 

RESULT (in place of words like because or as a result):

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 (in place of 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.

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Comments

Hello,
I'm a bit confused about using verb-ing after comma in a sentence. Basically, I'm not sure what kind of grammar it is and where I should use such structure. Below are two examples for your reference:
1) The engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology.
2) Teachers serve as inspiring role models for the students, living and embodying values they teach.
As can be seen in the examples above, -ing form of verb is used after comma. Could you please give me some advice about this structure and let me know when I can have this in my writing.
Best Regards,
Pedram

Hello Pedram,

These are participle clauses. The first sentence, for example, is a version of something like 'The engineer identified the problem while using the latest technology'.

It'd be best to consult a resource specialising in punctuation (such as a style guide or writing reference, e.g. the OWL), but in general participle phrases end in a comma when they come first in a sentence, begin and end with a comma if they come in the middle of a sentence, and, when they are at the end of a sentence, come after a comma if they are separated from the word they modify -- see the page I linked to for some good examples.

Finally I just wanted to point out that participle clauses are much more common in formal writing. I suppose you know this already, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, which sentences of these are right ?
"For the first time I have seen her with a holymark applying on her forehead"
"For the first time I have seen her with a holymark applied on her forehead"
"For the first-time I have seen her with a holymark on her forehead" According to with, with applying, with applied or with and with applied both right ?

Hello SonuKumar,

The second and third are grammatically correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr.Kirk,
I'm confused with participle phrases and gerund phrases.
Eating too much fat,causes your arteries clog up.
in here,how does first phrase work? I feel it as a subject.

Hello dlis,

That's correct -- the noun phrase 'eating too much fat' is the subject of the verb 'causes'. In general, we call an -ing form a gerund when it acts as a noun (though note that gerunds have can objects -- in your example, 'too much fat' is an object) and a participle when it acts as an adjective, a part of a verb or as part of a participle clause.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Which is the rule by which you are able to tell if "Challenging" refers to subject or object as in this case it refers to object plea, in my sentence above In the previous comment and generally How to know if a present participle refers to a subject or a object ?

Hello SonuKumar,

The participle follows the noun which it modifies. For example:

 

The lady waiting at the bus stop saw me. [the lady was waiting]

The lady saw me waiting at the bus stop. [I was waiting]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Is there any difference in using the conjunction 'While' or not in both sentences below ?
"An aeroplane crashed while taking off" And
"An aeroplane crashed taking off" ?
And In this sentence below what form is participle "Challenging" in, in adjective form or is it just referring to the subject "Supreme court", that how it works ?
"Supreme court will hear a plea today challenging centre's notification banning cattle trade for slaughter" What does Challenging refer to Subject 'Supreme court' or object a plea and How to Know simply what a present participle like that refers to subject or object in the sentence like this ?

Hello SonuKumar,

There is no difference between the examples with and without 'while'.

'Challenging...' describes 'plea' and has an adjectival function.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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