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Participle clauses

Do you know how to use participle clauses to say information in a more economical way?

Look at these examples to see how participle clauses are used.

Looked after carefully, these boots will last for many years.
Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I avoided the question. 
Having lived through difficult times together, they were very close friends.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: Participle clauses: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Participle clauses enable us to say information in a more economical way. They are formed using present participles (going, reading, seeing, walking, etc.), past participles (gone, read, seen, walked, etc.) or perfect participles (having gone, having read, having seen, having walked, etc.). 

We can use participle clauses when the participle and the verb in the main clause have the same subject. For example,

Waiting for Ellie, I made some tea. (While I was waiting for Ellie, I made some tea.)

Participle clauses do not have a specific tense. The tense is indicated by the verb in the main clause. 

Participle clauses are mainly used in written texts, particularly in a literary, academic or journalistic style. 

Present participle clauses

Here are some common ways we use present participle clauses. Note that present participles have a similar meaning to active verbs. 

  • To give the result of an action
    The bomb exploded, destroying the building.
  • To give the reason for an action
    Knowing she loved reading, Richard bought her a book.
  • To talk about an action that happened at the same time as another action
    Standing in the queue, I realised I didn't have any money.
  • To add information about the subject of the main clause
    Starting in the new year, the new policy bans cars in the city centre.

Past participle clauses

Here are some common ways that we use past participle clauses. Note that past participles normally have a passive meaning.

  • With a similar meaning to an if condition
    Used in this way, participles can make your writing more concise. (If you use participles in this way, … )
  • To give the reason for an action
    Worried by the news, she called the hospital.
  • To add information about the subject of the main clause
    Filled with pride, he walked towards the stage.

Perfect participle clauses

Perfect participle clauses show that the action they describe was finished before the action in the main clause. Perfect participles can be structured to make an active or passive meaning.

Having got dressed, he slowly went downstairs.
Having finished their training, they will be fully qualified doctors.
Having been made redundant, she started looking for a new job.

Participle clauses after conjunctions and prepositions

It is also common for participle clauses, especially with -ing, to follow conjunctions and prepositions such as before, after, instead of, on, since, when, while and in spite of.

Before cooking, you should wash your hands. 
Instead of complaining about it, they should try doing something positive.
On arriving at the hotel, he went to get changed.
While packing her things, she thought about the last two years.
In spite of having read the instructions twice, I still couldn’t understand how to use it.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: Participle clauses: 2

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

hi
I have a problem with explanation of "reasons"
in explanation is said "in place of so..." but the example is against.
"so" is used in second clause but "ing-form" is used in first clause and isn't used in place of "so"
thanks

Hi naghmehsa,

Thank you for the question. I can see what you mean here and I think we can phrase the explanation more clearly. I'll edit the page so that the example is a better one, and I think also the words 'in place of' are possibly confusing, so I'll rephrase those too.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir
Thank you for your prompt reply for my last question regarding the two sentences which were in complete and any inconvenience caused to you in this connection is regretted.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Sir
Please let me know whether these two sentences are correct and if so do they
mean the same.
I have been given to understand that there are vacancies for the post of computer operators and . . .
Being given to understand that there are vacancies for the post of computers operators and . . .
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Peter M & Kirk!

Good day! Hope both of you are doing great and have observed this year's Christmas with joy and happiness.

Could you please enlighten me with your valuable comments on the following sentence regarding the usage of participle phrase ( indicating that firms.....)?

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

Can I rewrite the sentence by using the relative clause instead of participle phrase?

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

If the above sentence is correct, then does 'which' denote 'the elasticity' or the entire clause 'the elasticity of supply is high' ?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear Kirk and Peter M, could you explain whether I can use different tenses with participle clauses. For example, revising for a couple of week, Tom got high mark. Revising for a couple of week, Tom will get high mark. Are these two sentence correct?

Please check!

Participle clause-

I went to the market, wanting to buy grocery.

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.

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