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

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Hello Abdo Hassan,

'having him as both' is the subject of the verb 'weakens'; it is not a participle clause. One of the uses of the -ing form is to create a gerund, i.e. to make a verb function as a noun. It's difficult to say without knowing the context, but perhaps this person has two positions that normally must be separate to prevent conflicts of interest.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Thu, 26/07/2018 - 21:28

Permalink
Sir, I ran away seeing Priya. I ran away by seeing Priya. I know that the first sentence is right. But using the word 'By' In the second sentence makes it a little worng. why is that and then where should we use the word 'By' In front of 'Ing form of the verb = Present participle' ?
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 27/07/2018 - 02:17

In reply to by SonuKumar

Permalink

Hi SonuKumar,

There is no clear relationship between running away and seeing Priya. Normally there needs to be some kind of causal or other relationship. For example, 'How did he become a millionaire? -- He did it by playing the lottery every day'. 'playing the lottery' shows how 'he did it'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 11/07/2018 - 22:30

Permalink
Sir, What were the subtitutions taking place in the England football team last night. Why not 'Taken place' instead of 'Taking place' in the sentence while the action is already complete ? But In this sentence we use past participle like this 'What were the subtitutions made or done by the England team. is it because 'Make and Do' are transtive verbs, while 'Take place' is not ?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 12/07/2018 - 07:13

In reply to by SonuKumar

Permalink

Hello SonuKumar,

As you say, 'take place' is an intransitive verb so it would not be used with a passive meaning.

Please note that we generally do not deal with sentences taken from elsewhere as we are not responsible for their content or language choices. We're happy to comment on our own material and explanations, of course.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by qayum2s on Mon, 09/07/2018 - 05:02

Permalink
Hello Sirs, "There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look." I copied the sentence from the website. I have two questions. 1. According to grammar rules, whenever an 'IF" clause comes second, we do not put a comma, but we have in the sentence. Why? 2. In which situations, can we use 'IF' in future tenses?

Hi qayum2s,

When 'will' is used after 'if' like this, it typically means either 'be willing to'. Here the idea appears to be that if people were just willing to take the time to look, they would find there is enough love. It's also possible for 'will' to mean something like 'it is true now that' -- for example, 'If you really will help me paint the house, I will wait for you'.

I probably would have left out the comma in that sentence; I'm afraid I don't know how to explain that writer's choice other than to note that there is quite a bit of variation in punctuation.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by qayum2s on Sun, 01/07/2018 - 06:40

Permalink
Hello Sir, "Peter M is a good teacher" "so is Kirk." Now is the following sentence correct? If not what is the alternative way to tell the same idea using 'so' in short answers? "I have been to New York" " so have London."

Hello quayum2s,

The correct way to express this is a little different:

I have been to New York and to London too/as well.

 

We can use 'so' when we want to provide an alternative to the subject of the first sentence:

I have been to New York.

So has Bob. / Bob has been to New York too.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by qayum2s on Sat, 30/06/2018 - 12:16

Permalink
Hello Sir, I want to ask the following sentences if they are correct or not, and they seem to be unnatural or wrong. 'The man I was talking to was the man I was in debt to'. 'The man I was talking to was the one/man I owed to.'

Hi qayum2s,

The first sentence is correct and sounds natural to me. The second one just needs the word 'money' (or some other object) after the verb 'owed', since it is generally a transitive verb (which means it requires a direct object): 'the man I owed money to'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Thu, 28/06/2018 - 06:49

Permalink
Hello, I want to know the meaning of '101' and its usage. I dont know if it is even an English word. Anticipating your response.

Hi Muhammad Erad,

We'd need a bit of context to be able to answer that question. Could you please provide a full sentence and explain the ideas that come before and after it?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Thu, 14/06/2018 - 06:15

Permalink
Sir, I want to say that seeing him reminds me something. Now can I also rewrite the same thing like this= (By) Seeing him, I remember something, Or (By) Seeing him, I come to remember somthing ? By writing 'By' In front of both sentenses, I want to ask you If we can use this word 'By' as a preposition or are these sentenses better without 'By' ?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 14/06/2018 - 07:39

In reply to by SonuKumar

Permalink

Hello SonuKumar,

We do not add 'by' here. You can rewrite the sentence using 'when' and a finite verb:

Seeing him, I remember something

When I see him, I remember something

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Serhan677099 on Mon, 11/06/2018 - 06:35

Permalink
i want to expand my question can we provide all causality meaning contrast meaning condition meaning+ which action happen first by using perfect participle for example could you please clarify these examples diferrences meanings etc if studying hard i could pass the exam if having studied hard i could pass the exam although he had visited the rome, he didnt remember anything about it although visiting the Rome he didnt remember anything about it although having visited the Rome he didnt remember anything about it he felt happy because her friends had visited her having been visited by her friends he felt happy visited by her friends he felt happy

Hello Serhan677099,

There are problems with many of these examples. The relationship between participle phrases and conjunctions is complex. Sometimes it is possible to use a participle phrase after a conjunction. Sometimes it is not. And sometimes the conjunction is necessary. Some conjunctions are very rarely or never used with participle phrases.

 

The conjunctions which can be often with participle phrases include after, before, since, when, while, whenever, once, until, on, without, instead of, in spite of and as.

 

I will comment on each of your sentences briefly below. However, please note that we generally do not answer questions which contain lists of different examples. We're happy to answer shorter questions but this kind of question is really something which you should address to a teacher so that he or she can adequately explain the various issues involved. With many thousands of users on LearnEnglish and only a small team to deal with questions, it's not possible for us to provide this kind of individual help, unfortunately. 

 

if studying hard i could pass the exam 
if having studied hard i could pass the exam

These sentences are not correct. You could omit if and simply use the participle, or you could use a finite verb:

Studying hard, I could pass the exam. 

If I studied hard, I could pass the exam.

Having studied hard, I could pass the exam.

As I had studied hard, I could pass the exam.

 

 

although he had visited the rome, he didnt remember anything about it

This sentence is fine.

although visiting the Rome he didnt remember anything about it
although having visited the Rome he didnt remember anything about it

The contrast provided by although is key to the sense of the sentence and so we cannot simply remove it. You could use a preposition like despite or in spite of (with a gerund rather than a participle to follow it), or you could use a finite verb instead of the participle, as in the first sentence (Although he had...):

Despite visiting Rome, he didn't remember anything about it.

 

 

he felt happy because her friends had visited her

This sentence is fine. It tells us that she is being visited.

having been visited by her friends he felt happy

This sentence is grammatically correct but has a different meaning. In this sentence, he is visited by her friends; in the sentence above she was visited by her friends.

visited by her friends he felt happy

This is fine. Here he is being visited.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Serhan677099 on Mon, 11/06/2018 - 05:56

Permalink
I understand that participles can replace 'because' namely they may have causality meaning And perfect participles are used for stating which action happens first Can we use perfect participle with causality meaning plus stating which action happens first for example Sarah dont like dogs because he has been bitten by a dog bitten by a dog Sarah dont like dogs having been bitten by a dog Sarah dont like dogs What is the meaning difference between these sentences

Submitted by Helen31 on Mon, 21/05/2018 - 19:21

Permalink
Hello! Could you provide any references on perfect participles and sentence structure? We have been taught that a perfect participle is always followed by an object? I haven't found any relevant source with this info yet. Thanks in advance!

Hello Helen31,

A perfect participle is formed with [having + past participle]: having slept, having eaten, having spoken. It indicates an action which was completed in the past.

You can form perfect participles with transitive verbs (with an object) or intransitive verbs (without an object), so an object is not always required. For example:

Having risen early, I had a long wait for the train. [no object]

Having asked my questions, I left the room.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ifencing on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 20:42

Permalink
Hello again. This is very hard to understand Participle Clause. I wrote some sentenses that give information about time, result and etc. Could you check them, please? Condition Went to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting. If you go to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting. Reason Wanting to go away, he left the concert. He wanted to go away so he left the concert. Result It being late, he bolted the windows. Because it’s late, he bolted the windows. Time Singing the song, the doorbell rang. When I was singing the song, the doorbell rang. Thanks in advance. And could you explain about the subject in the participle clause? Can we use it ot not?

Hello ifencing,

There are some problems with the sentences:

 

Condition
Went to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.
If you go to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.

The problem here is that you are trying to use 'went' as a passive form, just as 'Look after carefully' in the example is a passive form. However, the verb 'go' does not have a passive form because it is an intransitive verb.

The use of participles for conditions is quite unusual. The meaning is 'provided that...' or 'in the case that...' and establishes a requirement for the result, rather than describing possibility.

 

Reason
Wanting to go away, he left the concert.
He wanted to go away so he left the concert.

Grammatically, this is fine. However, it is rather trivial and repetitive. Leaving is the same as going away, so there is no real reason provided here. The participle should tell us something rather than simply repeat the information in the main clause. For example, you could say Wanting to be alone, ...

 

Result
It being late, he bolted the windows.
Because it’s late, he bolted the windows.

This is fine.

 

Time

Singing the song, the doorbell rang.
When I was singing the song, the doorbell rang.

This sentence is incorrect. Remember that the actor is the same for both parts of the sentence, so your sentence suggests that the doorbell was singing the song. The sentence could read Singing the song, I heard the doorbell.

 

Please note that we generally do not provide this kind of extended feedback. We're happy to answer questions about our material and about English in general but we have many thousands of users and are a small team, so providing comments on lists of sentences is not generally possible for us, unfortunately.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ifencing on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 18:17

Permalink
Hello. Can you tell me if the sentenses are correct? Closing my eyes, I felt fresh air. Closing my eyes, I feel fresh air. Closing my eyes, I will feel fresh air. I changed the tense in the main clause. Does it sound normal? Thanks in advance

Hello ifencing,

Yes, all of those are grammatically correct. The participle is a non-finite verb form and has no time reference of its own. It takes its time reference from the verb in the main clause.

Obviously, whether or not the sentence makes sense will depend upon the context in which it is used.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by eliskh on Thu, 26/04/2018 - 01:38

Permalink
There is not a task in this section.

Submitted by SonuKumar on Fri, 13/04/2018 - 09:09

Permalink
Sir, I ducked into an arched doorway heading for the subway. In this sentence, does present participle 'Heading' refer to the doorway or the subject of the sentence 'I' ? I think it refers to the doorway because it's after it.

Hi SonuKumar,

Although its position after 'doorway' suggests that 'heading' tells us about the doorway, here it refers to the subject because doorways don't move, whereas people do. If the sentence were something like 'I ran into Priya going home', it could be that I was going home or it could be that Priya was -- in this case, both subject and object of 'ran into' are people so that is possible.

To make it clear, you could say 'Going home, I ran into Priya', though the truth is, people more often say something like 'I ran into Priya when I was going home' or 'I ran into Priya when she was going home'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zhverb on Tue, 10/04/2018 - 08:38

Permalink
Hi, What kinds of relative clause can be reduced? Can "the events that led to the American Civil War" be reduced to "the events leading to the American Civil War"? I saw a post saying that if the action is finished and not repeated, it can not be reduced. Is it right? I know all the passive relative clause can be reduced. For example, the man killed (reduced from who was killed) in the accident was a homeless person. But how about the relative clause with an active tone?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 11/04/2018 - 07:16

In reply to by Zhverb

Permalink

Hi Zhverb,

As the information on the page above says, we use past participles to express a passive meaning and present participles to express an active meaning.

I have no idea which post you are referring to and we don't comment on information from other sites but I have never heard of any kind of rule like that. In fact, your example about the American Civil War is perfectly fine as an example of a present participle with an active meaning and demonstrates that finished non-repeated actions can be reduced. You could change 'the events' to 'the event' or 'the decision' and the sentence would be perfectly fine.

 

Your second example can be written using either form:

the man who was killed in the accident > the man killed in the accident

the accident which killed the man > the accident killing the man

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many thanks Peter! Can the sentence "He is chasing the boy who broke his window" be reduced to " He is chasing the boy breaking his window" ?

Hello Zhverb,

No, that would not be correct. The time reference of the participle is the same as the verb in the main clause, so if the verb in the main clause has a present time reference (is chasing) then the participle would also refer to the present. Thus this sentence would mean 'He is chasing the boy who is breaking the window'.

The sentence would also suggest that the actions are simulaltaneous - that the boy is breaking the window while he is being chased. This would be true even if the verb was a past form. Thus 'He was chasing the boy breaking the window' would mean that the action occurred in the past, but that the actions were simulataneous - i.e. 'He was chasing the boy who was breaking the window'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Milhki on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 14:13

Permalink
thank you, Peter M, for your reply and the link!

Submitted by Milhki on Tue, 20/03/2018 - 10:49

Permalink
Hello! Could you, please, help me with the structure in this sentence: "By restricting the ways the state can be changed - we reduce the chances bugs can appear". Is this sentence grammatically correct? Is the first part (by restricting the ways the state can be changed ) the nominative participle construction? if not, what is it? why does it have two different subjects? or is it missing the word "how" e.g "by restricting the ways how the state can be changed"? and is this part itself (by restricting the ways...we reduce the chances bugs can appear) the participle clause of manner? Is the punctuation correct? Thank you in advance for your attention, time and explanation.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 21/03/2018 - 07:33

In reply to by Milhki

Permalink

Hello Milhki,

'By' is a preposition and introduces a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases with 'by' show the method by which something is achieved. The prepositional phrase here is perhaps a little confusing because it is so long but we can simplify it easily enough and then it is clear that it is a straightforward prepositional phrase:

By restricting these, we reduce...

We reduce... by restricting these.

The prepositional phrase here has an adverbial function as it modifies the verb 'reduce'.

I would say that a comma is preferable to a dash in this sentence.

 

LearnEnglish is a site for people learning English as a means of communication rather than as a site for linguistic analysis. For questions like this you might find the relevant section of stackexchange helpful:

https://ell.stackexchange.com/

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kamran Saif Qureshi on Sun, 11/02/2018 - 03:36

Permalink
In my opinion, this answers the question "When did I grab the pizza?" It can be rephrased as "While returning from the office, ......"

Hello Kamran Saif Qureshi,

That is correct. The present participle shows an action which happened at the same time as another action, as you say. Well done.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kamran Saif Qureshi on Sun, 11/02/2018 - 03:34

Permalink
Sir, could you refer some books regarding the adverbial use of participle phrases / clauses like in "Returning from the office, I grabbed a pizza from Tahzeeb Bakers."

Hello Kamran Saif Qureshi

The British Council does not offer recommendations regarding books, I'm afraid. We do not favour or advertise any publishers or authors. My suggestion would be to go to a good bookshop and find three or four different grammar books. Open each to the page for participle clauses/phrases and compare the information there. You'll be able to see which is the most accessible and complete, and which would be the best for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by curiouslearner on Sun, 04/02/2018 - 09:56

Permalink
"Following this, the surviving Malli surrendered to Alexander's forces, and his beleaguered army moved on, conquering more Indian tribes along the way." I found the above line in an article where the details regarding the Indian campaign of Macedonian King Alexander is mentioned. The above statements specifically mention the information about Alexander's army at that time when it returned to Greece. I searched the meanings of "beleaguer" which are as follows: 1. Lay siege to. 1.1 Put in a very difficult situations I think the first meaning out of these two is applicable in the case of above sentence. However, the past participle form of "beleaguer" doesn't appear suitable here. As per the rules mentioned above, the past participle form shows a "passive voice". But, here the army was the one who beleaguered different places. So, it appears to me that the present participle form "beleaguering" should be used.

Hello curiouslearner,

'beleaguered' is an adjective here, not part of a passive construction. The second meaning of the two that you list is the correct one here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user jarurote

Submitted by jarurote on Fri, 26/01/2018 - 03:58

Permalink
Dear sir, From the passage, ... "... Result (in place of words like because or as a result): 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." My questions are as follows. Could I swap the phrase like this? ... Having spent so long doing my homework, I had no time to read my book. And... Could we use this passage? “... Using the modern devices as the communication mediums of humans, it could worldwide access the large volumes of data through the internet that creates the social convergence.” Thank you.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 27/01/2018 - 07:33

In reply to by jarurote

Permalink

Hello jarurote,

It is possible to change the order and begin the sentence with 'having'.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'could we use this passage'. There are several errors in there if your question is about the accuracy of the language. However, we don't provide a correction service on LearnEnglish but rather answer questions about how the language works and specific aspects of the language system.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Thu, 25/01/2018 - 09:19

Permalink
Sir, With 365 runs made, He won the match Or Making or having made 365 runs He won the match. what I want to know is are these the same things or is there any difference, Can the one above with (with 365 runs made) interchange with the ones below, Can we do it every time with these two structures I mean Interchanging or does that depends on the context ?

Hello SonuKumar,

There is a slight difference in meaning which might be relevant in some contexts.

'Having made...' and 'With... made' place the run-making before the winning. In other words, the runs were achieved before the match was won.

'Making...' could also mean that the match was won during the run-making. In other words, there was no need to wait until later for the win; the two actions co-occurred. 

In most contexts (and certainly in this one) the forms are interchangeable. However, the dfference above could be important in some contexts.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Looked after carefully, this coat will keep you warm through many winters. I don't know the justification as to how the above sentence is correct. Particle used attributively always belongs the subject of the following main verb. if the participle belongs to the other subbject, then it must be expressed before it (Thomson & Martinet). I am astonished how BC can mislead learners.

Hello souba73,

The use of past participles in this way is quite correct. The participle has a passive form, and so the subject is 'coat':

If the coat is looked after carefully, it will...

 

You can find many examples of this construction in English. For example, here is a quote from Walt Whitman, one of the greatest writers in American literature:

Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I found the following sentence in Practical English Grammar. The plane crashed, its bombs exploding as it hit the ground. I have no objection to it. But it sounds a little bit awkward to me. Sir, I want to get accustomed to this usage. Could give me some more examples of this. Once again, I am new to this forum. I don't know where to post my questions or creat a new thread. Is it permissible to post any kind of questions under this thread?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 14/03/2018 - 07:42

In reply to by souba73

Permalink

Hello souba73,

The sentence is perfectly fine and I don't see any awkwardness in it. Participle clauses (as described on the page above) are efficient ways to combine information which might otherwise be in two different sentences. There are numerous examples already on the page with both present and past participles. Perhaps you can try to create more examples and we'll be happy to tell you if they are correct or not.

 

Please note that we respond to questions as soon as we are able. We have many users on the site and are a small team here providing a service free of charge. Posting reminders or pressing us to answer your question sooner only slows the process.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team