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

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Language level

Submitted by Miwa42’ on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 13:38

Permalink
In this sentence 'The family suffered seeing how the man had been treated' shouldn't there be 'in' before the participle seeing I.e. The family suffered in seeing how........

Hello Miwa42',

There is no need for 'in' before the participle here. The participle clause describes what causes the suffering and it does not need any preposition before it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by a_mig on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 06:06

Permalink
hello as you mentioned above, is the structure of the following sentences correct? or is it possible to use future tense for perfect participle? "having worked for several hours in a joyful environment, people will stay have enough energy to interact with family." "having improved the quality of products, companies can prove themselves." "having increased the cost of subsistence in recent years, less people can fulfill these extravagant cost of sustenance."

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 13:25

In reply to by a_mig

Permalink

Hello a_mig,

The participle clauses in the sentences above are all correct (there's no problem with using 'will' in the main clause after them) -- good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by basm on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 12:34

Permalink
admit is a 2 syllable verb with stress on second syllable ad-MIT. It ends in a final consonant , T and is preceeded by a vowel, i .Therefore the T is doubled before ed/ing in participle form as they both begin with a vowel e/i. Develop is 3 syllables de-VE-lop with stress on second but not final syllable and, therefore does not comply with the doubling -of- the final consonant rule. I hope this helps you Mehdi. Regards Brian

Submitted by mehdi2008 on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 00:13

Permalink
hello. please why must we add a T to "to admit" so it becomes "Admitted" in participle form, but we don't add a P to "devlop" and it just becomes "developed". What's the rule for this ? please i nead your help

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 12:10

In reply to by mehdi2008

Permalink

Hello mehdi,

I'm afraid there is no good reason for this, and although there are some general rules in English spelling, there are so many exceptions that the rules are not all that useful in the end. I wish I had a better answer for you!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team 

Submitted by Ycooi on Sat, 25/11/2017 - 14:33

Permalink
Greetings. I would like to ask which of the following is correct. They all seem correct to me. 1. Seeing this, she informed her father immediately. 2. On seeing this, she informed her father immediately. 3. Having seen this, she informed her father immediately. (Note: Before the above sentence, there are some sentences describing a crime scene.) Kindly explain the grammar rules if any of the above sentences is wrong. Thanks in advance.

Hello Ycooi,

All three sentences are correct grammatically. Of course, which sentence is most appropriate will depend upon the context and what you wish to express.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by firee818 on Sat, 28/10/2017 - 04:36

Permalink
Hi, Refer to your examples:- 1). Shouting loudly, Peter walked away. What is the meaning of the sentence? Is it mean that Because of Peter shouted loudly, he walked away or when Peter shouted loudly, he walked away.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 28/10/2017 - 09:55

In reply to by firee818

Permalink

Hi firee818,

We use participle phrases/clauses to indicate actions occurring at the same time. In this sentence Peter is shouting as he walks away, If we wanted to show that the shouting was first and the walking later (a sequence) then we could use a perfect participle: Having shouted loudly, Peter...'

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Thu, 28/09/2017 - 12:46

Permalink
Sir, He writes a later asking about money and He talks about a boy asking for money. I want to talk about two aspects of these sentences, first is a question if I add a comma (,) after a later in the first question and a boy in the second question does that change the meaning or not and in my second question where the participle 'Asking' clearly refers to the boy, becoming an adjective participle, do you think In a sentence like this one should write a comma between the noun and the participle which refers to the noun in writing and Now, which I think helps other students get this rule or structure right is My first sentence says that He writes a later and asks for money. Here clearly participle asking refers to the man who writes though it's after the noun later but if we understand that it refers to the noun later, then this sentence doesn't make any sense but in my second sentence the participle asking refers to the boy and here it's after boy a noun but it doesn't refer to the subject I and if we understand that it refers to I , it doesn't make sense. So what I understand is that we should always catch the sense of a sentence rather than making our own sentence and thinking about them too much, after all grammar is for making us understand a language not for making us confused and go astray right sir ?

Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 09:52

Permalink
Sir, Generally these sentences don't make sense (I don't want to anyone to doubt me by staying at that hotel) (By staying at that hotel I don't want anyone to doubt me) It's possible here suppose I'm drug dealer so I think that these sentenses are possible but all I want to know is if we add the phrase 'by staying at that hotel' in front the subject 'I' in this sentence like I did In my first sentence so it refers to the subject 'I' doesn't it ? or If we add the phrase 'by staying at that hotel' at the end of the sentense so it refers to the object of the sentence 'Anyone' doesn't it ?

Submitted by SonuKumar on Tue, 12/09/2017 - 08:44

Permalink
Sir, I saw her sleeping or going to sleep it means that I saw her when she was sleeping or going to sleeping but if Say that I saw her while sleeping or going to sleep so it means that I saw her when I was sleeping or going to sleep doesn't it ? so my question is that does just adding the word 'while' in this sentence change the meaning and make it what I understood in my second sentence or not ?

Hello SonuKumar,

As you say, the sentence 'I saw her sleeping' means that you saw her while she was sleeping. The sentence 'I saw her while sleeping' would generally be understood to mean that you saw her while you were sleeping (in a dream, perhaps).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Mon, 11/09/2017 - 17:56

Permalink
Sir, I don't want to stay there because anyone can doubt me. if we have to make this sentence using participle so we can rewrite it like this- By staying there, I don't want anyone to doubt me But If I want to say that I don't want anyone to stay there because they can doubt me, So Could I rewrite this using participle like this- I don't want anyone to doubt me by staying there or ? does phrase "By staying there" make any differences if we move it in front of this sentence and at the end of the sentence ?

Hello SonuKumar,

I'm afraid I still don't really understand your example. To help you express an idea we need to understand it but this sentence does not seem to make sense. Why would staying somewhere cause a person to doubt you? Or is staying an expression of existing doubt? How?

There is little sense in explaining a grammar point through a sentence which itself does not seem to make sense. I suggest you use examples which are logical and unambiguous rather than this kind of highly contrived and unlikely sentence. That way we will be able to help you rather than simply scratching out heads!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 03/09/2017 - 09:30

Permalink
Sir, I don't want anyone to doubt me by staying there. In this sentence phrase 'By staying there' refers to the one whoever can stay there but I wonder if I want to say that 'I don't want to stay there because anyone can doubt me, So Could I remake this sentence like this- By staying there I don't want anyone to doubt me ? does putting phrase 'By staying there' in front of the sentence change meaning and refer to the subject I of the sentense and change the meaning ?

Submitted by Sezin on Sun, 30/07/2017 - 11:27

Permalink
Hi "Shouted at loudly, Peter walked home." Is this mean, Peter was walking when someone was shouting at him? or Peter walked after someone shouted? Another Question: "Having been told the bad news, Susan sat down and cried." Is Susan who someone tell or hear? Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 01/08/2017 - 20:44

In reply to by Sezin

Permalink

Hello Sezin,

The first sentence sounds a bit unnatural to me. 'Having been shouted at, Peter walked home' would sound better, but still quite strange, as this structure isn't used in ordinary conversation, which this sentence appears to be an exmple of.

The second one is correct, but also a bit strange given its familiar tone. Susan is the person who was told the news (i.e. a different person told her) and is also of course the person who sat down and wept.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ingresed on Sat, 29/07/2017 - 19:58

Permalink
Hello, could someone help me whether I can put in the following sentence the present continuous tense instead of the simple one? Please read my message to the end. Being students, they didn't have much money and they usually worked as waiters at weekends. So it will be like "Being studens, they weren't having much money and they were working as waiters at weekends" I have read all examples on the page but I don't think my sentence is like those. I tried to compare it to Time (in place of words like when, while or as soon as): Sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home. Compare: While I was sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home. but there is some difference. Realised seems to be a performed and single action. But in my sentence there are to have and work as so I can't think of them as of a performed and single action, it is continuous isn't it? But simple tense can be continuous as well, I know. So can the continuous tense be used there? If can't, tell me why because I can't even understand that thing.

Hello Ingresed,

The continuous aspect would not be used in this sentence. The first verb is 'have', used with a meaning of possession. 'Have' does not occur in the continuous with this meaning. We say 'I have some money' not 'I am having some money', for example.

The second verb appears with an adverb of frequency ('usually'). This shows that it is a regular or typical action and so a simple form is used. If, for example, this was a temporary action then 'were working' would be fine here, but with adverbs of frequency the simple form is much more common.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kaisoo93 on Thu, 27/07/2017 - 10:00

Permalink
Hi teacher, 'I was happy seeing him smile.' In this sentence, 'seeing' is considered gerund or participle? If it is the latter, what should the original sentence be? (before it is reduced to participle) Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

This sentence is not completely unnatural, but the correct form in standard British English would be 'I was happy to see him smile'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aminsoltani45 on Sat, 22/07/2017 - 21:23

Permalink
Arvo there, I've just got a question on grammar part which I cannot find it either via the Internet or in grammar books. we all know about participle phrases (or clause);" playing football, John broke his leg! " but there is other sentences that I cannot comprehend how they are formed: " speaking, I would say a vast majority of individuals all around the world have serious problems and they are just struggling to find a certain way", it means: "talking about 'speaking' (a skill in a certain language), I would say....". And maybe the original sentence was : if (or when) we are talking about speaking ( or if you ask me about speaking). Nevertheless, no matter which one the original sentence is, i'd like to know what's the rule behind that? ! How and when could I make sentences like this ?!

Hello Aminsoltani45,

To be perfectly honest, that looks like a very awkward construction to me - more like a person trying to replicate in English a structure that is used in another language. You could make a case for it being a form of ellipsis where the full sentence would be something like 'If I were speaking (on this topic)...' but guessing such things without knowing the context of the utterance makes little sense.

If I had to guess, I would say that this is not a standard construction and is either an attempt to recreate in English a form from another language, or else it is a particular rhetorical device using context-dependent ellipsis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Fri, 14/07/2017 - 07:21

Permalink
Sir, Are these two sentences right ? "There are microphones fitted in this room" "This room has microphones fitted in it" Could I also use the verb 'set or fix' rather than fit in these sentences ?

Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 12/07/2017 - 14:01

Permalink
Sir, In the sentence given above by Kasturi Das, He left home, denying and rejecting his own family. Now Because of a comma in this sentence we come to know easily that participles refer to the subject 'He' in this sentence but while listening this sentence or sentences like it How to Know what it refers to ?

Hello SonuKumar,

Participle clauses aren't used much in ordinary speaking, so it's not often that you'd hear a sentence like this. But if you did, there is no other sensible subject that the words could refer to, so that's how one can know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Wed, 12/07/2017 - 13:46

Permalink
Sir, Are these sentences right ? "There are microphones fitted in this room" "This room has microphones fitted in this" and could I also use the verb "set or fix" rather than fit in this same sentence ?

Submitted by aunicorn on Wed, 12/07/2017 - 12:24

Permalink
Hello, my IELTS teacher taught me a structure which is some how similar to this present participial phrase, but I'm not sure, could you please help me? all the examples above, have the present tense in the first part and the past tense in the second part: Shouting loudly, Peter walked home. but my teacher asked me to write sentences both in present, here is what she said: Working for 30 years with my father, I should think about my business. Thank you very much.

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 23/07/2017 - 02:17

In reply to by aunicorn

Permalink

Hello aunicorn,

It's probably more common to use a present participle to speak about the past, but you can also use it to speak about the present. You can see a few examples on this BBC page. This other BBC page might also be useful.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kasturi Das on Mon, 10/07/2017 - 18:58

Permalink
Hello! I'm a bit confused about the sentence below. He left home, denying and rejecting his own family. Is it correct?

Hello Kastyri Das,

Yes, that sentence is fine and means that the act of leaving home was a denial and rejection of his own family.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers, 1) The participle used in this sentence is related to reason, result, simultaneousness or subject of main clause? 2) Would it have the same meaning if rewritten to: "Denying and rejecting his own family, he left home"? Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

I'm guessing that the original sentence is

He left home, denying and rejecting his own family.

 

The meaning is ambiguous without knowing the context, and is likely to be a question of interpretation in any case. It could simply be actions occurring simultaneously, or there could be a more causal relationship. The structure itself does not make this explicit.

The second version is also possible and it does not change the meaning - it is still ambiguous.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sagir Mondal on Mon, 10/07/2017 - 16:24

Permalink
What is Dazzling participle ? Sir, I request you to give two or three example and usage of dazzling participle . When I shall use dazzling participle ? Thanks .

Hello Sagir Mondal,

I'm afraid I've never heard of such a thing. Are you sure you heard the term correctly?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hallow sir, How are you ? May be fine with the mercy and blessing of God . Well, Sir , By mistake , Dazzling Participle that was mistyped , The correct term is "Dangling participle " . I heard the term from Oxford Advanced learner's dictionary . As far as I know , Dangling participle that relates to a noun that is not mentioned . Dangling participles aren't considered correct . In the sentence " While walking home , my phone rang" , "Walking" is dangling Participle . A correct form of the sentence would be " While i was walking home , my phone rang . Sir , I request you that i did not totally make out about the dangling participle , so give simple example so that i make out . Sir , tell me in details about that term and usage . Thanks sir .

Hello Sagir Mondal,

The problem with the example sentence you ask about is that the subject of the subordinate clause ('While walking home' -- it's not completely clear, but I suppose the subject is 'I') is not the same as the subject of the second clause ('my phone rang', subject = 'my phone'). The subjects must be the same in this kind of construction; if they are not, they are referred to as 'dangling participles'.

I'd suggest you take a look at a different Oxford Dictionary page that explains this in much more detail.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aleya on Mon, 10/07/2017 - 05:26

Permalink
Hello Sir Can we use participle clauses in future sentences? Regards Aleya

Hello Aleya,

The time reference for participle clauses is always the same as the verb in the main clause and they can be used for any time reference, including future time. For example:

I will wait for you at the corner, wearing a red shirt and a black hat.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Tue, 04/07/2017 - 11:08

Permalink
Sir, She is going to bus stand with a purse held in her hand. Is this a right sentence using past participle 'Held' in it and Using past partciple with the preposition 'With' like in this sentense,what is this rule called ?

Hello SonuKumar,

Your sentence is not incorrect, though normally people would probably just say 'with a purse in her hand'. In your version of the sentence, 'held' is adjectival.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hugoecc on Mon, 03/07/2017 - 21:03

Permalink
Good evening, how can I know when to use present participle, past participle ir the perfect participle? Are there any rules?

Hello Hugoecc,

The differences between present and past participles in participle clauses are explained on this page. It is primarily a question of whether the meaning needed is active (present participle) or passive (past participle).

If you have a particular example in mind then please post it and we will try to help you with it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 02/07/2017 - 03:14

Permalink
Sir, There's a sentence. "She passes by me wearing a beautiful dress" Now in this sentence why do we not use the past participle worn instead of present one, whereas The girl I'm talking about already has worn her dress completely the work is done even then why present participle and is there a way to make the same sentence using past participle ?

Hello SonuKumar,

As the information on the page says, present participles have an active meaning and past participles have a passive meaning. The girl is wearing the dress and so an active meaning is needed and a past participle would not be appropriate.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pedram on Mon, 26/06/2017 - 10:03

Permalink
Hello, I'm a bit confused about using verb-ing after comma in a sentence. Basically, I'm not sure what kind of grammar it is and where I should use such structure. Below are two examples for your reference: 1) The engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology. 2) Teachers serve as inspiring role models for the students, living and embodying values they teach. As can be seen in the examples above, -ing form of verb is used after comma. Could you please give me some advice about this structure and let me know when I can have this in my writing. Best Regards, Pedram