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 Claudia on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 00:47

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Hi! I don't understand why in the 2nd test, "_Having been worked_ in prisons..." is incorrect, as is describing an action that took place before the action in the main clause. Thank you!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 08:54

In reply to by Claudia

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Hi Claudia,

Having been worked would be a passive form and, since work is normally an intransitive verb, it would be ungrammatical as well as not fitting the sense of the sentence.

Having worked or After working would be fine, if they were possible choices.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Kaisoo93 on Sat, 01/08/2020 - 09:44

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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

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 18:21

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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?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 08:27

In reply to by Kapil Kabir

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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

Submitted by Ujin on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 14:18

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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

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Submitted by Karan Narang on Tue, 14/07/2020 - 04:42

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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

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 13:43

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Hello sir, I have a question and I couldn't understand it. Money from poor countries is flowing into richer ones in large part due to active purchase of foreign assets by central banks. Here, the correct word that is used is Poorer instead of poor. I want to know that why it is happened. Is there any rule for this. Please clarify sir.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

I'm afraid I didn't understand whether you were asking about 'poor' or 'poorer', but in any case, both words are possible here, with little difference in meaning since they are compared to 'richer'.

I don't think there's any rule that explains this -- it's just that in this context, 'poor countries' and countries that are 'poorer than richer countries' seem to mean pretty much the same thing. I could be wrong about that, but without context, that's what it looks like to me.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hyungu Kim on Mon, 06/07/2020 - 12:05

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Hello sir. I'd like to know whether the follow sentence is grammatically correct. 'He always reminds us that everyone is important to a team's success, though their role on the team being small.' In particular, is the phrase 'though' grammatically possible? Thank you for your concern.

Hello Hyungu Kim,

The way the clause is written here is incorrect. I would recommend something like 'even if their role on the team is small' in most situations.

In an older style of English, it would be possible to use a clause beginning with 'though' if you changed the verb from 'being' to 'be'. But this would sound quite strange to most people nowadays, so I would not recommend using it.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:43

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Hello sir, I have a doubt regarding the use of Present participle amd gerund. Sir What is the main difference in the meaning of these two sentences 1) He doesn't like me going there. 2) He doesn't like my going there. What is the difference in the meaning of these two sentences. Are these grammatical correct or not?
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 03:59

In reply to by Kapil Kabir

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Hi Kapil Kabir, The two sentences mean the same thing. There's no difference in meaning. They are both grammatical, but have slightly different structures, as you've noticed. Here's my analysis: - In sentence 1, 'me' is an object pronoun, and 'going there' is a participle phrase modifying 'me'. - In sentence 2, 'my' is an adjective, which modifies 'going there' (a gerund/noun phrase). Best wishes, Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Reza on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 17:55

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Hi Peter, Could you please tell me if these sentences are grammatically OK? Surrounded by thunderous applause, he stood up. While he was surrounded by thunderous applause, he stood up. He stood up while surrounded by thunderous applause. He stood up while he was surrounded by thunderous applause. Having been nominated for the prize, he is a rich man now. After he has been nominated for the prize, he is a rich man now. He is a rich man now after having been nominated for the prize. He is a rich man now after he has been nominated for the prize. Thanks

Hello Reza,

I'm afraid your question is too long for us to handle here -- that's eight different sentences, and explaining each one could take some time.

If you'd like to ask us about one of them, please feel free, but please remember that our purpose here in the comments is to help users make use of the content and materials on our site, not to correct users' writing. We are simply too small a team with too much other work to be able to do this.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MJ21 on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 18:35

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In the sentence "Tom nervously watched the woman, alarmed by her silence", the participial clause comes after the comma because it is far from the subject. However, the same structure doesn't seem to work in the sentence "Felicia directs the play, not included in the cast". May I ask why this is so?

Hello MJ21,

I would suggest that the sentence is missing a word:

Felicia directs the play, not being included in the cast.

Without this, I think the sentence scans very awkwardly.

 

You could put the clause elsewhere in the sentence:

Felicia, not included in the cast, directs the play.

Felicia, being not included in the cast, directs the play.

Not included in the cast, Felicia directs the play.

If the sentence is taken from a published text then it may be that during the editing process the clause was moved from a different position, mistakenly creating a very awkward structure.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tifflora on Thu, 11/06/2020 - 15:22

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in what ways does the present perfect differ from the past perfect and the present participle

Submitted by Fulsawange2020 on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 03:36

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Sir What is an active meaning and a passive meaning that you have mentioned while giving reply to some questions. The sentence which I have written is grammatically correct.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 07:00

In reply to by Fulsawange2020

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Hello Fulsawange2020,

When the subject of the verb performs the action, we describe it as having an active meaning. For example:

I read the book.

The subject here is 'I'; the action is performed by the subject.

 

When the subject of the verb receives the action, we describe it as having a passive meaning. For example:

The book was read.

The subject here is 'the book'; the action is performed on the subject.

 

You can read more about active and passive voice and meaning here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/intermediate-to-upper-intermediate/passives

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/active-and-passive-voice

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gracy on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 00:29

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Hi, I'd like to know the grammar explanation of the participle clause for the following sentence and the meaning of the whole sentence. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states, for instance, have suspended significant labour protections exempting factories from even maintaining basic requirements like cleanliness, ventilation, lighting and toilets.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 06:54

In reply to by Gracy

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Hi Gracy,

I think the sentence needs a comma before the participle clause. Without a comma, it appears that the participle clause describes the labour protections (i.e. the labour protections exempt factories from...), which would not make sense in this context. With a comma, it is the suspension of the labour provisions which is being described (i.e. the suspension of the labour protections exempts factories from...), which is clearly the meaning intended.

 

The participle clause describes the result of the action (suspending labour protections) in the main clause. We could rewrite it as two sentences as follows:

Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states, for instance, have suspended significant labour protections. This has exempted factories from even maintaining basic requirements like cleanliness, ventilation, lighting and toilets.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gracy on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 13:43

In reply to by Peter M.

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Thanks indeed Peter. That's really helpful.

Submitted by Kaisoo93 on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 06:27

In reply to by Peter M.

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Hi Peter, Can we rewrite as follows? "Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states, for instance, have suspended significant labour protections, which has exempted factories from even maintaining basic requirements like cleanliness, ventilation, lighting and toilets." Thanks
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 07:15

In reply to by Kaisoo93

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Hi Kaisoo93,

Yes, that's perfectly fine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Melih YILMAZ on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 21:21

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___ under normal clothes, a thermal layer keeps you warm in minus temperatures. i don't understand it

Hello Melih YILMAZ

'a thermal layer' is another way of saying 'thermal underwear'. Another way of saying this is 'A thermal layer, which is worn under normal clothes, keeps you warm in minus temperatures'. 

Does that make sense?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 03:42

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It's really fascinating.

Submitted by ahsan on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 13:21

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hello kirk please help me in the following scenario: The ongoing economic stagnation resulting because of the government's austerity drive is even worsening the socio-economic equation. 'because of the government's austerity drive': What this fragment of the sentence would be called? Is it a participle clause, as it seems that it is, for it is using the present participle. Or, is it a non-defining adjective clause? as it is providing extra info about the subject_the economic stagnation.

Submitted by Dmitry P on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 10:44

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Hello! My textbook (Empower C1, unit 6B) says that you can’t turn the following relative clauses in participle clauses: Joanna is a woman who says what she thinks (NOT woman saying what she thinks) Paddy is the kind of man who never arrives anywhere on time (NOT man never arriving anywhere on time) And my question is why? The books explains that those are not continuous verbs, but i can use “arrive” in continuous.

Hello Dmitry P,

You can use participle clauses to join sentences with simple verbs:

Paul is a man. Paul lives in London.

Paul is a man who lives in London.

Paul is a man living in London.

 

The problem with your examples is something else. It is that we do not use participle clauses to describe general features or characteristics, but rather particular actions or states. Your examples describe behaviour which is typical for them rather than a particular action, and so participle clauses are not possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wcyam10 on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 10:25

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Q:___ by the changing information, they thought the plane was cancelled. Confusing Confused Having confused why the answer in the question above is not "having confused"?

Hello wycam10,

The sentence requires a verb form with a passive meaning, and the only option with a passive meaning is Confused. You could use a perfect form, but it would still need to be a passive form: Having been confused.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wcyam10 on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 10:05

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Referring to the question below, why the answer (b) is correct instead of (a) ? Q:___ by all the attention, he thanked everyone for the cake and presents. a.Embarrassing b.Embarrassed c.Having embarrassed

Hello wycam10,

We use present participles (embarrassing) when we want an active meaning and past participles (embarrassed) when the meaning is passive. In your sentence, the meaning is passive: the man is embarrassed by the attention.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 09:28

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Sir, The difference being that I don't like juice and she does. The difference is that I don't like juice and she does. Now I know that 'Being' is being used as a present participle in the first sentence above and I have some people using it that way that means it's a natural use. However It sounds quite unsual to me. I wonder, how can a participle, that is 'being' in this case, replace 'is or are' ? what kind of use of the being is this and can other participles: present ones or past ones be used in this way ?
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 14:59

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hello SonuKumar

This is a structure that some people might say from time to time, but it's fairly unusual in most situations. First of all, it's a bit academic, and in most writing other than transcriptions of a conversation between people (for example, in a story), it would be considered a sentence fragment rather than a complete sentence.

It would normally be at the end of a sentence, and preceded by a semi-colon or dash. In such a case, it would essentially be a kind of adverbial participle phrase. For example: 'She and I have the same tastes apart from one small difference -- the difference being that I don't like juice and she does.' As you have suggested, it means something like 'She and I have the same tastes except for one difference. The difference is that I don't like juice and she does.'

As a sentence fragment, 'being' doesn't replace the verb 'is' or 'are'. There is no main verb in the sentence as you copied it above, which is why we call it a sentence fragment in such a case. When it's part of a sentence (as in my example above), it's a phrase and so doesn't have a main verb.

I hope this helps you make sense of it.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kaisoo93 on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 11:35

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Hello Teachers, "Students get a lower grade in some difficult subjects, which will lower their overall score, they thinking they do not perform well as a whole and undermine their confidence." 1) In this sentence, I use participle clause 'they thinking they do not...' to give the result of 'lower their overall score', meaning that lowering their overall score made them think that they do not perform well. Is it correct? 2) Do I need to change 'undermine their confidence' to participle clause 'undermining ...'? because 'undermine their confidence' is the result of 'they think they do not perform well' Can I rewrite this site's example sentence: "The bomb exploded, destroying the building." to "The bomb exploded, the building being destroyed"? Thank you
Hello Sirs, Appreciated if you could help answer my question, thank you

Hello Kaisoo93

It's not correct to begin the participle clause with 'they'. The sentence is difficult to understand as it is; I'm not sure where you found it, but I wouldn't take it as a model. 

Your version of the sentence about the bomb is not correct. You could write 'The building being destroyed, the bomb exploded' but the meaning would be different -- it would mean that since the building was destroyed, the bomb exploded. That doesn't make much sense to me, but the grammar is not incorrect.

I'm sorry, but we can't provide explanations of sentences that don't come from our website. They are not always correct and we can't explain why other people write the way they do, especially when the grammar is non-standard.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jasmina on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 11:00

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Hi Peter, thank you very much for your excellent and understandable explanation. Best regards Jasmina

Submitted by Jasmina on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:50

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Hi English Team! I have a problem. We have to link folllowing sentences by using a participle construction: Donald Duck was "born" in 1934. He became the world´s most famous duck. I have three soultions: Born in 1934, Donald Duck became the world´s most famous duck. Being born in 1934, ... Having been born in 1934, ... Which one is the correct one and why? The second example is: The original Disneyland was designed by Disney himself. It opened in California in1955. My solutions: The original Disneyland, designed by Disney himself, opened in California in 1955. The original Disneyland, being designed by DIsney himself, ... The original Disneyland having been designed by Disney himself... When do I use past participle alone and when with have or have being? Thanks

Hi Jasmina,

The correct option for your first example is the first one (Born in, ...). This is because it is neutral in the sense that it simply provides information. The other two options suggest a causal link - that Donald Duck became the world's most famous because he was born in 1934.

 

The second example is similar. The second and third options suggest a causal link of some kind, while the first is simply a factual statement. The difference between the second and third options is that the second describes the situation at the moment (a fact about Disneyland now) whereas the third focuses on how that situation came to pass. It's a difference in emphasis and depends really on the speaker's intention and the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team