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
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

Hi Lal,

We can't really say if a sentence is correct or not when it is not finished, but if the first ended after 'operators', it would be a correct, complete sentence. The second would not be correct -- it needs a comma after 'operators' and then a main clause after it (e.g. 'I would like to apply for one') for it to be a complete sentence.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

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.

Hi Learner2018,

Thanks for your holiday wishes! You are right about this sentence: you could rewrite it using the relative clause that you suggest. In this case, 'which' refers to the entire clause.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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?

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.

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