Participle clauses

Do you know how to use participle clauses to say information in a more economical way? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

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

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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

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

In reply to by SonuKumar

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?