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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

Dear Teachers,
I understand that if a relative clause is a single completed action then it cannot be reformulated using participle clause. How about past continuous tense?
The policies in 2000 aiming to boost its economy had affected the environment badly = The policies in 2000 which was aiming to boost its economy had affected the environment badly.

Thanks

Hello Kaisoo93,

The sentence with the reduced relative clause is OK, but if I were writing I would change it to 'that aimed to boost' instead of using a participle. It's clearer and nearly as economical.

I'm afraid that the second sentence is a bit awkward. Perhaps in a specific context, the past continuous would make sense there, but in general it would probably be a past simple or past perfect tense. Also note that the subject 'policies' is plural.

I hope this helps you make sense of this.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thank you for your explanation.
I wonder why "The policies in 2000 aiming to boost its economy had affected the environment badly = The policies in 2000 that aimed to boost its economy had affected the environment badly" but "The boy who passed the exam was very happy ≠ The boy passing the exam was very happy."?
While both "aimed" and "passed" are a single completed action, why "aimed" can be turned into participle clause but "passed" cannot?
Thank you.

Hello Kaisoo93,

I think it has to do with the actions not being simultaneous. In 'The boy passing the exam was very happy', 'passing' suggests the boy was happy while he was passing the exam, whereas presumably he was happy after he passed it.

In 'The policies in 2000 aiming to boost its economy had affected the environment badly', the aim did not follow the policy. The aim existed before and during the implementation of the policy, whether or not it came to fruition.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I have a doubt regarding the usages of "another"
I was reading a news article about Covid-19 pandemic,

"But in the case of the novel coronavirus, 24 candidate vaccines are already in clinical evaluation and 'another 142 are' in the preclinical evaluation stage."
Here, I couldn't understand the use of another 142 are, we know that another is determiner as well as pronoun but it is used as a singular entity in questions
So, my question is how we can use the word another with plural verb inspite of it being singular entity.
Like these examples
1) Another girl
2) Another girls
Which one is correct?

Hello Kapil Kabir,

Another is used with singular nouns, so another girls is not correct.

 

However, when another is followed by a number it can be used with a plural noun:

This is a big job. It will take another six weeks to complete.

Another four beers, please!

In these examples another has the sense of a further.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

Where can I find more explanations about participle clauses? It seems to me like similar to reduced clauses. Besides, doing the exercises, I have got only half of it correctly.
Help me to use it accurately. Thank you

Hello Ujin,

We're happy to help you understand a specific answer in our exercises if you let us know which exercise and which question you want to ask about. If you do ask us such a question, please explain to us what you thought the answer was and why -- this way we can help you better.

I'm afraid there is nothing else on our site about participle clauses, but I'm sure you can find some explanations by doing an internet search for 'participle clauses in English' or something similar.

I'd also suggest you pay attention when you're reading or listening so that you can analyse participle clauses when you come across them. It will probably take you some time to find some, as they are relatively rare, especially in speaking.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

After reading this lesson having understood how can I make sentence with these participle of present or past
And having been got good mark in these test.
Could you explain me in past or present participle form use past tent then how will I understand which is present or past participle sentence ?

Hello Karan Narang,

Could you please rephrase your question? I'm afraid I don't understand exactly what you're asking.

It's also really helpful if you ask as specific a question as you can. It's very difficult to answer general questions about grammar.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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