Do you know how to start a clause with a present participle (e.g. seeing) or past participle (e.g. seen)?

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,

Is present participle used when both actions are happening at the same time?

Does the the above e.g., 'Shouting loudly, Peter walked home.' mean 'While Peter was walking home, he was shouting loudly.'?

For the following, do 2. and 3. have the same meaning as 1.?

1. Although I worked hard, I failed my test.
2. Despite working hard, I failed my test.
3. Despite having worked hard, I failed my test.

Since 'working hard' is the first past action, am I right to say that using 'having' is thus optional/redundant in a sentence that has 'despite' in it?

Thank you.

Hi,
Having seen it all his life, he knows every aspect of it.
Having lived there all his life, he knows everything about the place.
Does the participle clauses mean that he still sees it and lives there?
should I use "knew" instead than "knows"?

Hi sam61,

The action described in the participle clause does not have to be ongoing. It simply has to have a present effect.

For example:

Having been married most of his life, he can give some good advice.

In this sentence the person may be still married now, but may equally be divorced or widowed. What is important is that he has the experience and knowledge which allows him to give good advice.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team!
I have a question.
What is the grammar rule of this sentence,

"Trust having served you herewith"?

It was at the end of one of e-mail.Is it kind of phrase?
Thank you for your help!

Hi
I have a problem with two sentences that have been written above.
1- 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.
Why in this sentence you used "looked". I think according to explanation in this case we should use "looking", instead in this sentence:
RESULT (with a similar meaning to so or therefore):
The bomb exploded, destroying the building.
Compare: The bomb exploded so the building was destroyed.
we should use "destroyed" instead of "destroying".
Please let me know what's my problem.
Thanks.

Hello hamid2231
'Looked' is the correct form in the first sentence because in relation to the subject of the main clause ('this coat'), it has a passive meaning, i.e. 'if this coat is looked after carefully'. You could use gerunds here ('Looking after the coat carefully will result in it keeping you warm through many winters'), but it would no longer be a participle clause since the two '-ing' forms acting as nouns.
'destroying' is correct in the second example because in relation to the subject of the main clause ('The bomb'), it has an active meaning. 'The bomb exploded and destroyed the building' might be a more helpful way of thinking about it.
Does that make sense?
All the best
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Do the participle clauses for result and reason need a comma to introduce them every time like the ones shown in the examples.

Hello sam61
Yes, they normally need a comma. Clauses that explain reasons are also commonly written with the reason clause first, and in this case they also have a comma. For example in 'Having spent so long doing my homework, I had no time to read my book', the comma is also used.
All the best
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Britishcouncil English team. I have three sentences,
1. Tomorrow, I will be reading this
book lying on my stomach.
2. Tomorrow, I will be reading this
book and I will be lying on my
stomach.
3. Tomorrow, I will be reading
this book while lying on my
stomach.
Do they all have the same meaning ?
And what subject should I read related to the form of the first sentence ? Because I want to be able to write sentences like the form of the first sentence.

Hello Hudi,
The first and third sentences have similar meanings, showing actions happening simultaneously.
The second sentence could have this meaning but it could also show sequential actions (first... second...)
~
The first sentence is an example of a participle clause, so you are on the right page already. You might also find these pages helpful:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learni...
~
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

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