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

Hello mark roi,

On this page it says:

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

Your example does not make sense as the subject would have to be the same. In other words your sentence means 'I was raining and I was walking'. You cannot use a participle clause if there are two different subjects, therefore you need to say, as you suggest, 'It was raining while I was walking'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

I'm a bit confused as to why participle clauses following conjunctions like 'because' are called 'result' clauses, while those that follow conjunctions like 'so' are called 'reason' clauses. In the two examples above, both clauses are reasons for the actions in the main clauses. I would therefore refer to both as 'reason' clauses. Have I missed something?

Hello bretfrag,

You're right that there's a bit of overlap in terms of 'reason' and 'result' in the example sentence above, and I'm sure in many other sentences. I usually think of 'reason' clauses as looking more to the future, i.e. they kind of carry the past or present condition into the future to explain the future action, whereas 'result' looks more to the past. But to be honest I'm not completely sure that thinking works in all cases.

In any case, I wouldn't worry too much about what the clauses are called - in most cases, of course, understanding what they mean is far more important, and, as I've mentioned, the names for these kinds of clauses aren't always very precise, so don't take them too seriously.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

If you miss the 6 o'clock train, you won't get here before 7.

If you missed the 6 o'clock train, you wouldn't get here before 7.
what do these sentences really mean?

Hello sipun0044,

These are examples of different conditional forms and the difference is how likely the speaker considers the situation - likely/possible in the first example, and unlikely/impossible in the second.

You can read more about conditional forms on this page, this page and this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

sorry sir, i didn't get the second one
will you please elaborate
I've already read all the conditionals.
only confused with 1st & 2nd.
look like they are same in meaning but they aren't which makes me confused.

Hello sipun0044,

The difference between the sentences is as follows:

If you miss the 6 o'clock train, you won't get here before 7.

The speaker thinks there is a good chance that you will miss the train - it describes a real possibility.

If you missed the 6 o'clock train, you wouldn't get here before 7.

The speaker does not expect you to miss the train - it is a hypothetical statement.

The difference here is in the speaker's perspective and how they see the event.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Peter M,
can we use past participle clauses for conditinal 1,2 both?
if I practice more I will win.
Practiced more I will win.
Is this same?...............wrong.

Hello dlis,

In these constructions the past participle has a passive meaning while the present participle has an active meaning. Both can be used to refer to any time - the time reference is set by the main verb. For example:

Practising more, I will have a better chance to win.

= If I practise more, I will have a better chance to win.

 

Practised more, the game becomes easy.

= If the game is practised more, it becomes easy.

 

Note that the subject is always the same in both clauses.

You can read more about this on our page about participle clauses, which you can find here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I'm confusing with present participle and perfect participle,
for this,
My father has just retired.He was a teacher.
Being a teacher,my father has just retired.
or
Having been a teacher,my father has just retired.

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