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

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Submitted by Mitzi on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 22:41

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I would like to know whether this sentence i bumped into is correva. " The middle class started to occupy spaces that once had been of the monarchy's". It is the of + genitive that makes me wonder. Thanks

Hello Mitzi,

That does not look correct to me, though the sentence is not in context. You could use either 's or of, and I think 's is the most natural here:

The middle class started to occupy spaces that once had been the monarchy's.

 

Alternatively, you could use a phrase like ...once belonged to the monarchy.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by monarchy110 on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 18:43

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I correct my question,, how many tenses are there in English? 12, 14, 16 tenses?

Hi again monarchy10,

As I said in my earlier answer, there are two tense in English.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by monarchy110 on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 18:42

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Hi there As for tenses in English, I found the following list of 12 tenses. My question is why "Future in past" and "Future in past continuous" are NOT included? totally how many questions are there in English? 12 , 14 or 16? Here are the twelve English tenses as conventionally taught: Simple Present: He sings. Present Perfect: He has sung. Present Continuous: He is singing. Present Perfect Continuous: He has been singing. Simple Past: He sang. Past Perfect: He had sung. Past Continuous: He was singing. Past Perfect Continuous: He had been singing. Simple Future: He will sing. Future Continuous: He will be singing. Future Perfect: He will have sung. Future Perfect Continuous: He will have been singing.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 09/02/2019 - 08:15

In reply to by monarchy110

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Hi monarchy110,

Modern English grammar recognises two tenses in English: past and present. Other verb forms involve aspect (perfect and continuous), mood (modal verbs) and voice (active and passive).

As to your question, we can't explain to you why someone (who we don't know) has chosen to include or not include certain things on a list they made. You need to ask the author of the list.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by egorkazakov12345 on Thu, 07/02/2019 - 20:02

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Dear Sir, I have a question regarding the usage of participle clause. I have come across the following sentence: 'Underfunding is the reason for the youth employment scheme has reaching crisis point over the last few weeks'. I do not really get why participle clause is used here. I would say: 'Underfunding is the reason for the youth employment scheme has reached crisis point over the last few weeks' instead. In my opinion, the participle in the first sentence acts like a main clause, but I can not find similar examples in any of grammar books. Does the first sentence make sense to you? If yes, could you make some other examples with similar structure, please? Thank you for your help!

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 08:43

In reply to by egorkazakov12345

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Hello egorkazakov12345,

I'm afraid the sentence is not grammatically correct. To make it correct, you need to remove 'for' and use a present perfect form, or else remove 'has' and use a participle:

Underfunding is the reason the youth employment scheme has reached crisis point over the last few weeks.

 

Underfunding is the reason for the youth employment scheme reaching crisis point over the last few weeks.

 

The first version has no participle clause.

 

In the second version for is a preposition with the object 'the youth unemployment scheme reaching crisis point over the last few weeks'. The participle phrase 'reaching...' describes the noun 'the youth unemployment'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Sun, 27/01/2019 - 16:00

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Hello, Peter M & Kirk! Good day! Hope everything is going great at your end! Can you please illuminate me with your suggestions on the usage of the participle phrase 'selling the bond when...' in the following sentence: the investor may have difficulty selling the bond when other bond offerings enter the market, with more attractive rates. My first question: Does the participle phrase 'selling the bond when other bond offering...' act as a complement of the adjective 'difficulty'? My second question: Would it be possible to rewrite the sentence in following way: the investor may have difficulty in selling the bond when other bond offerings enter the market, with more attractive rates. What is the different between in+selling and selling in the above examples? Thanks in advance!

Hi learner2018

In response to your first question, the phrase is actually 'have difficulty selling the bond', i.e. 'have difficulty' + verb-ing and yes, 'selling the bond' is the complement of the word 'difficulty' (though note that it's a noun instead of an adjective).

As for your second question, yes, it's possible to use 'in' in this and similar cases; it is a generally accepted usage and means the same thing.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by monarchy110 on Sat, 26/01/2019 - 18:46

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Hi , is this reduction right ? Is there anyone who has access to paypal? Is there anyone having access to pal??

Hello monarchy110,

No, that is not correct. We do not use 'have' with the meaning of possession in participle clauses. You could simply use 'with', however: Is there anyone here with access to...?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

But I found this following reduction with "have" with the meaning of possession in the grammar book named " Communicate what you mean" by "Carroll Washington pollock" page 150 Reduction of Adjective Clauses. anyone who has a library card may check out books. anyone having a library card may check out books. how do you explain this reduction based on this above reference?

Hello monarchy110,

'Have' is used in many ways, often as a replacement for another verb (have a shower, have dinner etc).

We do not use 'have' for possession in participle clauses. Thus we would not say:

Anyone having a dog knows they are wonderful creatures.

Anyone having a house understands the importance of security

Someone having a car knows how expensive it is.

Rather, we would use 'who has' or 'owning' in each example.

 

However, the example you give is correct. I would suggest that the reason is that having here means not possessing but rather something like bringing or showing

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ifencing on Thu, 24/01/2019 - 10:15

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Participles clauses is the same as (Nominative) Absolute Participle Constructions?

Hello ifencing,

This is not a term I use, but I believe the name refers to a particular kind of participle clause. You can read a discussion of the topic here:

https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/105900/understanding-absolute-construction

https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/152987/noun-being-adj-grammar-rule/152995#152995

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Momonoki on Fri, 18/01/2019 - 20:50

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Dear Sir, I confused about this sentence -' The bomb exploded, destroying the building.' (The bomb exploded so the building was destroyed.) If the building was destroyed as a result of the explosion, should it be 'destroyed the building' not 'destroying'? I would be grateful if you could explain the sentence. (Sorry, I am not good at English, I hope you can understand what I try to say!)

Hello Momonoki,

In participle clauses, present participles have active meaning and past participles have passive meaning.

For example:

I walked down the street, watching the man. [I watch the man]

I walked down the street, watched by the man. [the man watches me]

 

The present participle (destroying) is correct here because an active meaning is needed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by naghmehsa on Tue, 08/01/2019 - 05:11

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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

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 08/01/2019 - 06:44

In reply to by naghmehsa

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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

Submitted by Lal on Mon, 31/12/2018 - 04:57

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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

Submitted by Lal on Sun, 30/12/2018 - 12:32

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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

 

Submitted by learner2018 on Thu, 27/12/2018 - 03:29

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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

Submitted by Mdanesh on Tue, 25/12/2018 - 17:38

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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

Submitted by Rox4090 on Thu, 13/12/2018 - 15:46

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Please check! Participle clause- I went to the market, wanting to buy grocery.

Hi Rox4090,

Yes, that's the idea, though normally the participle clause comes first. It's also a bit unusual in informal speech -- this sounds rather more informal than formal. Finally, 'grocery' should be plural.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Thu, 13/12/2018 - 03:51

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Hello, Peter M & Kirk! Good day! Hope both of you are doing well! I need a bit clarification from you regarding the following sentence: Economists often criticize rent control, arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living. What is the meaning of participle clause 'arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living' in the above sentence? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause? It would be highly appreciated if you could enlighten me with your valuable comments on it.

Hello learner2018,

The participle clause explains the main clause here, telling us how the main action is done: Economists often criticise rent control by arguing that...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 15:23

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Hello, Peter M & Kirk! Good day! I came across the following sentence while reading my economics text: In our example, free trade in textiles would cause the price of textiles to fall, reducing the quantity of textiles produced in Iceland and thus reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry. I think the participle clause 'reducing the quantity of textiles produced' demonstrates the result of the main clause 'the price of textiles to fall'. Is it reasonable to think? My second question is: the usage of 'and thus' with the participle clause 'reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry' is correct? If it is correct, what type of clause 'and thus reducing employment in the Icelandic textile industry' would be? It would be highly appreciated from my end, if you could enlighten me with your valuable comments on the aforementioned issues.

Hello learner2018,

You are correct: the clause beginning 'reducing...' shows the result of the main clause. A second result is given in a parallel clause ('...reducing...'), which is joined with the co-ordinating conjunction 'and'.

'Thus' is an adverb and does not change the structure of the sentence here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 18:37

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Dear Peter M, Good day! Thank you so much for your previous comments on some issues which I got confused about. However, I need your valuable comments on the following two sentences regarding the meaning of participle clauses: 1. Economists often criticize rent control, arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living. What is the meaning of participle clause 'arguing that it is a highly inefficient way to help the poor raise the standard of living' in the above sentence? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause? 2. For low levels of quantity supplied, the elasticity of supply is high, indicating that firms respond substantially to changes in the price. What is the meaning of participle clause 'indicating that firms respond substantially to changes in the price'? How could the sentence have been restructured by using a dependent clause instead of participle clause?

Submitted by learner2018 on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 03:22

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Hello, Peter M & Kirk! Hope everything is going great at your end. I am seeking your valuable comments on the usage of 'by directly controlling the price' in the following sentence which I came across in my economics text. Each of these two groups (consumers and sellers) lobbies the government to pass laws that alter the market outcome by directly controlling the price of an ice-cream cone. Wouldn't be grammatically correct writing 'directly controlling the price of an ice-cream cone instead'? Would there be any difference in meaning, though grammatically correct? It would be highly appreciated from my end if you could provide some other examples of using by + verb+ ing and the reasons of using that structure.

Hello learner2018,

We use 'by + -ing' (by + object (gerund)) to show the method or technique by which something was done:

I made my fortune by investing in a tech company.

She scared the tiger away by sounding her car horn repeatedly.

 

Each of these two groups (consumers and sellers) lobbies the government to pass laws that alter the market outcome by directly controlling the price of an ice-cream cone.

Here, the meaning is clear: the method for altering the market outcome is the direct control of the price of an ice-cream cone.

 

Each of these two groups (consumers and sellers) lobbies the government to pass laws that alter the market outcome, directly controlling the price of an ice-cream cone.

Here, the meaning is different. The laws change the market outcome, and that results in the direct control of the.... In other words, by omitting 'by' we have changed the cause (method) into a result or co-occuring event.

 

This is quite common:

I answered, laughing. [I was laughing as I answered]

I answered by laughing. [The laugh was my answer]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Tue, 06/11/2018 - 13:05

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Sir, My friend was an enthusiastic musician, being himself not only a very capable proformer but a composer of no ordinary merit. My friend was an enthusiastic musician and he was not only a very capable proformer but a composer of no ordinary merit. I think these two sentences say the same thing don't they ?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 07/11/2018 - 08:32

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hi SonuKumar,

Yes, I understand the same thing, though the first one has an awkward structure -- the second one sounds much more natural. Please note that the word 'proformer' should be 'performer'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Sun, 04/11/2018 - 17:20

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Hello, Peter M & Kirk! Good day! I have come across the sentence in a finance text: If management so desired, a firm could issue some bonds and use the proceeds to buy back some stock, thereby increasing the debt–equity ratio. I have two queries regarding the above sentence: 1. Is 'Increasing' a 'gerund' or a 'participle'? why? 2. Can I replace 'thereby increasing the debt–equity ratio' with 'which increases the debt–equity ratio'? What function does perform 'thereby' in the sentence? I would be grateful if you could give your valuable comments on it.

Hello learner2018,

The word 'thereby' is an adverb which means 'in this way' or 'through this'. Grammatically, you could use a relative clause (...which increases...) but it does change the meaning. The relative clause tells us the effect of the buy-back, whereas 'thereby' carries a suggestion of intention – it suggests that increasing the ratio was a goal, not just an incidental effect.

In this sentence, 'increasing' is a participle, not a gerund. It introduces a participle clause.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir, Thank you for valuable comments on this issue. Now, the meaning of 'thereby' in the sentence is clear to me. However, could you please give me a further clarification why you considered 'thereby increasing the debt–equity ratio' as a participle clause. What is the adjectival or adverbial role performed by the clause? Thanks in advance!

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 06/11/2018 - 06:27

In reply to by learner2018

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Hello learner2018,

Participle clauses are often used to show the effects (intended or accidental) of an action.

For example:

I spilt coffee on my laptop, ruining it completely. [When I spilt coffee on my laptop, I ruined it]

 

Your sentence works in the same way.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Fri, 02/11/2018 - 13:54

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Sir, A Thought or A Qoute can sometimes be words of wisdom coming or come out of someone's mouth. Should I use 'Come Or Coming' in this sentence or Should I just simply write 'That come out of someone's mouth ? Also Can I use the pronoun 'One' rather than 'Someone' ?

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 03/11/2018 - 08:01

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hello SonuKumar,

Both 'coming out of' and 'that (which) come out of' are possible.

You can use 'one' in place of 'someone', but the meaning is a little different. 'Someone' is more general' 'one' is most often used by a speaker as a formal way of referring to him- or herself.

Note that 'thought' and 'quote' are not usually capitalised.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learner2018 on Wed, 31/10/2018 - 18:17

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Hello, Peter & Kirk! Good day! I need to know how the following two sentences are different from each other grammatically? My first sentence is: I saw Jim riding his bike. Here, is 'riding' a gerund or participle? why? Second one is: I spent all of my leisure time watching movies. Here, is 'watching' a gerund or participle? why? Please enlighten me with your valued comments on this.

Hello learner2018,

Gerunds are a verb forms which function as nouns. In the sentence they can be subjects or an objects.

Participles are verb forms which have adjectival or adverbial functions. They can modify nouns or verbs (verb phrases).

 

In both of your sentences the -ing forms are participles:

 

riding his bike is a participle phrase describing 'Jim'; it has an adjectival role in the sentence.

 

watching movies is a participle phrase modifying the verb phrase 'spent all of my leisure time'; it has an adverbial role in the sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your valuable comments on it. However, I further need to clarify the usage of verb+ing form in the following sentence: I saw Jim riding a bike. As far as I am concerned, gerund can be used as an object complement. Is 'riding', in the above sentence, a usage of gerund as an object complement? If not, could you please give any example of gerund used as an object complement? I highly appreciate your valuable comments on it.

Hi learner2018,

As Peter said, 'riding a bike' is a participle in that sentence; it tells us more about Jim.

An example of a gerund as an object complement is 'I like riding my bike'. 'riding' functions as a noun (which is why we call it a gerund) and it is the object of 'like'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Cristina123 on Sun, 21/10/2018 - 11:54

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Apologies for any typo mistakes; haven't quite figured out how to edit my comments afer saving them.

Submitted by Cristina123 on Sun, 21/10/2018 - 11:51

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Hi, Marking my students' exams, I've come across the following sentence structures: Example 1 Me using this Shampoo, makes my hair shiny and soft. Would you say the 'me' is wrong? I'm torn between giving 0.5p or just accepting it and give 1p. The Student writing this is simply emphasising the fact that 'he' (or she for that matter) is the subject, though unncessarily….I reckon I don't like the pronouns at the beginning of a participle clause in General (e.g. it being …) though I can't find a good answer to then explain why I give 0.5p. Example 2 By using this Shampoo..... Here I'm not happy with the BY....doesn't the participle clause substitute it? Using language in an economical way … (as written above). Would you count it wrong and give the Student 0.5p or should I accept it? Thank you for your help.