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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Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sun, 19/12/2021 - 07:28


Our dog lay under the bed, gnawing on a bone.
In this context does "gnawing on a bone" give only information?
can we write this in this way- Our dog lay under the bed while it was gnawing on a bone
Therefore, we can say that we reduced the adverbial clause and after reduction it became 'adjective phrase' only qualifying the subject 'the dog'.
Kindly reply🙏🙏!!

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sun, 19/12/2021 - 07:14


starting in the new year, the new law bans car parking near the parliament.
can I write this in this way- The new has been introduced and enforced in the new year and from then, car parking near the parliament is prohibited.
So, my question is that time in the main clause puts any effect on the participle( starting in the new year,.........).And give more examples regarding it.

Hi Gopal Debnath,

Yes, that's right. We need to interpret the time of the -ing clause by using information in the main clause.

For example, this sentence has the same "Starting ..." clause, but a different tense in the main clause:
-- Starting in the new year, the new law BANNED cars parking near the parliament.

In this sentence, we should understand the "Starting ..." clause as having occurred in the past (rather than the future, as in your original example).

I hope that helps.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sat, 18/12/2021 - 18:54


Destroying forest, people are increasing the effect of global warming. is this grammartically correct?
if it is so, we can use present participle as adverb of manner.
Please reply🙏🙏🙏!!!

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

The sentence is not correct. Participle clauses can describe motivation or purpose (reason) but not impersonal cause (what makes an action occur).

Take a look at the example above:
"Knowing she loved reading, Richard bought her a book."
Richard's action was motivated by his knowledge; he bought the book because he knew she loved reading.

Now think about your example:
"Destroying the world's forests, people are increasing the effect of global warming."
[You need the plural form 'forests' here]
People are not increasing the effect of global warming because they are destroying the world's forests; it is not a motivation for them.

I don't think a participle clause is appropriate here. Instead, I would use 'By destroying...' or 'Through destroying...'

The LearnEnglish Team

Revealing the secret, She ruined all enjoyment of surprise.
Is it correct grammartically ?
Here participle clause is showing cause; please explain elaborately if it is not correct.

Sir, I have learnt a new concept from you. so, I thank you from bottom of my heart.
Now, Let me come to my next doubt and I hope you shall help me clear it.
Doubt- 1.[Jacob goes to school by cycling]
( by cycling)= acting as an adverb
can I write it in this way- 2.[Jacob goes to office cycling]
Is 2nd one correct grammartically??
Kindly reply🙏🙏!!

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

No, I don't think we would use this construction. The -ing form in constructions like this suggests simultaneous actions:

> Jacob walked to the office singing a song.
> Paul wrote an email listening to the radio.

Your sentence would separate the two actions, making them distinct actions which happened at the same time rather than being linked through one being the method by which the other is accomplished.

The LearnEnglish Team

So, you mean to say as I have connected both actions that happened at the same time, but according to the context one has been accomplished by the other(One action is directly dependent on the other), I have to use PREPOSITION and in this context the PREPOSITION is (BY).
Kindly reply 🙏🙏!!

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

The problem is that the person is going to work and presumably they are doing this by cycling. The sentence 'Jacob goes to office cycling' would suggest that Jacob is going to work (by car or bus or something else) and at the same time is cycling. This is clearly not the intention. In other words, 'cycling' is not a second action which happens at the same time as another, but rather the means by which the first action is done.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sat, 18/12/2021 - 18:45


Knowing she loved reading books, Rechard brought her a new book. If we re-write this in this manner - (Rechard knew that she loved reading books , so he brought her a new book), it is clear to us that both actions happened in the past time. but, it is not clear that they took place at same time(maybe more or less immidiately). As one action is showing reason, we can change it to present participle. Sir, is my explanation correct?
Kindly reply🙏🙏!!

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

Yes, I think your explanation is correct. Richard's knowledge is not something that exists only at the moment of buying the book but is rather something which is more or less constant, and it shows a reason, as you say.

The LearnEnglish Team

coming with a great speed, A ball hit me.
In this context, (coming with great speed) this is acting as an adjective phrase because it is adding information to 'the ball' and these two actions happened less immediately not at the moment. is this explanation correct??

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sat, 18/12/2021 - 18:23


sir, I haven't understood the 4th number use of present and past participle. Does they add information to the subject of the main clause at the same time when the action in the main clause takes place??
Kindly reply🙏. And give some more example regarding this.

Hello Gopal Debnath,

This use of the participle is adjectival in the sense that it adds information about the subject of the main clause. This could be information which is always/generally true and not only at the time of the main clause action.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rori on Wed, 15/12/2021 - 22:33


Mentioning in the question use present participle while the question requires using past continuous is this correct?!
He ——-(play) yesterday at 3’oclock.

Hi rori,

It seems a bit unusual, but without knowing the context that this question appears in and the intentions of the question writer, I don't think I can say more than that, I'm afraid. :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LongLongg on Mon, 13/12/2021 - 17:02


Hello learn English team,
I am very confused about the use that is " to give the reason of activities " of the past participles and present participles. so what is the difference? please explain for me.
Thanks very much.
Long from Viet Nam.

Hi Long,

Past participles here normally have a passive meaning, so the subject is receiving the action, or being affected by it. In the example "Worried by the news, she called the hospital", the past participle "worried" shows that "she" was affected by the action. She didn't do the action of "worrying" all by herself - something else did the action and she was affected by it (here, "the news" - "the news worried her").

Present participles here normally have an active meaning, so the subject is doing the action. In the example "Knowing she loved reading, Richard bought her a book", Richard knows she loved reading.

I hope that helps :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dewa on Sun, 12/12/2021 - 08:20


Hello, The LearnEnglish Team,
I got two sentences from the internet:

~A sharp decrease followed, with sales falling to around 15,000 in 1990.
~The divorce rate peaked in 1980, at nearly 1.5 million divorces, before falling back to 1 million at the end of the period.

I am curious about whether the last clauses in each sentence are the participle clause or gerunds? and can I use “fell” instead of “ falling”?

Thanks in advance.

Hello Dewa,

Many grammars teach that the verb forms following prepositions are always gerunds, though other grammarians prefer to say '-ing form' instead of 'participle' and 'gerund' (since both gerunds and present participles have the same form).

So from one point of view the clauses starting with a preposition have a gerund in them. 

In any case, I'd like to point out that in these sentences the clauses with '-ing' are a sort of alternative version of longer clauses. The first, for example, could be written as 'A sharp decrease followed: sales fell to around 15,000 in 1990' and the second as 'The divorce rate peaked in 1980, at nearly 1.5m divorces and then fell back to 1m at the end of the period'.

In both cases, the verbs 'fell' and 'fell back' have a subject ('sales' and 'the divorce rate', respectively). Even though the participles are understood to refer to these same subjects, we don't usually speak of participles as having subjects.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HieuNT on Fri, 10/12/2021 - 09:18


Hi, I have this sentence:

"He seems to have cut himself shaving this morning."

Is it true that "shaving" here an example of present participles used to reduce an adverb clause? I mean, "shaving this morning" = "while he was shaving this morning" in this case.

Or are there any different explanations?

Hello HieuNT,

Yes, 'shaving this morning' is, as you say, a reduced form of the adverbial clause 'while he was shaving this morning'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by 0933810273 on Sat, 27/11/2021 - 07:27


Hi Everyone!
Today, I've just finished "the participle clauses". So, I have some questions about this structure.
1)Past participle clauses
-Been by accident, he was taken to the hospital. Is this sentence right?
-How to use the way of "If condition" for this structure.
2)Perfect participle clauses
-Having finished your homework, you could go to bed. Is this sentence right?
-Finally, I want to question the sentence of the main clause after using the perfect participle clause.

I'm grateful for all your answers. Thank you so much!

Tran Tan Duc, Vietnam

Hello 0933810273,

1) No, that sentence is not correct. We don't use 'been' in this way. You could, however, use a different verb:

> Injured in the accident, he was taken...

2) I'm trying to think of a context in which you would use this sentence. The problem is the modal 'could', which here suggests general possibility. If it were about a specific situation, such as a parent speaking to a child, then 'can' would be used.

I'm not sure what you mean by the last question (starting 'Finally...').

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Parikenan on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 03:50


Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

When is the right time ( situation ) to use "I would have thought" ?

Could you please give me some examples with sentences ?

Thank you very much,

Hello Parikenan,

We use 'I would have thought' after expressing an opinion about the present or the future, especially with 'will'. It's similar to 'I expect' in meaning.

She'll be in the office, I would have thought.
We'll need a lot of money, I'd have thought.

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter
Your explanation about would have pp, took me to first squer again after almost one year trying to realize exact meaning of this structure. Base on my understanding the main usages of this structure are as follow:
1- in hypothetical situation and third type of if cluase
2- in contrast with your explanation, I thought it would be used almost always in past tense when we want to talk about possible consequence of action that happened or not happend in reality.
3- to guess something that could have happened in the past, for example, the exam was so easy that students would have finished it in less than hour.
4- one of the good examples expressing well the asked question ( would have thought), could be this, who would have thought that Cronaviruse could have been affecting all aspects of our life for almost two years. ( it says nobody though this issue)

Please guide me in this respect, you may not believe that fully appreciation of this structure have become a nightmare for me.

Hello aria rousta,

I think that's a pretty good summary.

Please note that my comment earlier was not about 'would have + verb3' in general (as a grammatical construction) but rather about the specific phrase 'I would have thought' and how it is used in communication.

'Who would have thought' is used to show that something is extremely surprising, as you say. Like 'I would have thought' it is a particular expression with a particular communicative use rather than a typical grammar construction.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Parikenan on Fri, 29/10/2021 - 19:51


Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I got this sentence, as written below, from the internet,

"either way" is
used for saying that it does not matter which of two things happens or is true, because the result will be the same.

Why don't they use "to" as a preposition here, so the sentence would be,

"either way" is used to saying that it does not matter which of two things happens or is true, because the result will be the same.

Thank you very much,
Hudi parikenan.

Hello Parikenan,

The form 'be used for' describes a thing's purpose: a pen is used for writing.
The form 'be used to' describes something which has become normal: I am used to my new house.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by datdo14102004 on Sun, 24/10/2021 - 06:05


Hello teacher
Can I use present participle in this way to add information to the first clause?
"The figure for Food production in China was determined to be the highest one, rising from nearly 5 million tonnes to about 9 million tones between 2010 and 2012."
Thank you very much!

Hello datdo14102004 ,

Yes, the present participle 'rising' is fine here.

The LearnEnglish Team

Can I remove the comma after the first clause? Is there any change in the meaning of the sentence if I do that?

Hello datdo14102004,

The comma is necessary. Without the comma, the participle would form part of a defining relative clause describing 'the highest one'. In other words, the sentence would be about the highest figure out of all those which are rising, rather than the highest figure, with some additional detail added.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Fri, 22/10/2021 - 11:31


Hi teachers,
Are adjectives -ed like "annoyed and tired" called past participle?

I read adjective with -ed on the other page, and it says "annoyed" cannot be put before noun. Is there any explanation for adjective -ed (or past participle) that can or cannot be put before nouns?
Thank you, sir.

Hello Risa warysha,

Past participles are a verb form, what is sometimes known as the 'third form'. Some past participles can be used as adjectives -- but not all -- and I'm afraid there is no easy rule to say which ones can be used this way.

When we talk about the position of adjectives (i.e. where they go in a sentence), we often use the terms 'attributive' and 'predicative'. The first one indicates a position before a noun (e.g. 'red shoes' or 'expensive car') and 'predicative' refers to an adjective used after a link verb (e.g. 'The sky is blue').

Most adjectives can be both predicative and attributive, but there are some that are only used in one way. 'annoyed' is an example of an adjective that is only predicative; others include 'asleep' and 'alone'.

You can read a bit more about this on

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ali shah on Thu, 21/10/2021 - 09:42


Hello, Sir. You're doing a great job by sorting out our problems relating to grammar. Keep it up! Best wishes your way.

Now coming to my question.

1."Even as the US president has immense powers, the incumbent has the Congress breathing down his neck at all times and has to engage with its members."

Which structure is this: 'the incumbent has the Congrss breathing down'? What grammar rule does apply here? Please explain.

2." Like so many other issues relating to women's health in England, breast cancer is not a subject of serious discussion in the country, largely on account of social taboos."

Which phrase is this: 'largely on account of social taboos'? I didn't get the grammar rule behind it.


Hi ali shah,

1. This structure is used to talk about things we experience which are currently in progress. The structure is: subject + have + object + -ing verb. Here are some more examples.
-- It's very hot. I have sweat running down my forehead.
-- I don't feel lonely because I have my friends sending me lots of messages.
-- When I worked in an office, I had people calling me all the time.

You can read more about this on this Cambridge Dictionary page. See the 'Talking about an experience' section:…

2. This is a prepositional phrase, 'on account of + noun'. The adverb 'largely' is added at the front.

Thanks for your kind comments :) We are glad to hear that.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Wrakshamara on Wed, 20/10/2021 - 12:10


''As Gorman finished her poem, four US presidents and first ladies, two former vice presidents and their spouses, dozens of lawmakers and scores of diplomats gave her a standing ovation, some struggling to hide their tears.''

What is the grammar behind using the last clause ''some struggling to hide their tears'?
Is it present participle? If yes, why didn't the writer use 'with' before 'some struggling...' as the participle has not the same subject as the main clause?

Please asnwer this, Sir.

Hello Wrakshamara,

You certainly could use 'with' here. However, you can also read the sentence as 'some of whom were struggling...'. This structure is often reduced in this way.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Wrakshamara on Mon, 18/10/2021 - 07:21


''A new group of strangers crowded around, united by nothing more than the sound of a young American’s fingers on the keys.''

Is the second clause beginning with ''united by...'' a past participle clause , or is it a reduced relative clause(who are united by nothing...)?

Thanks and regards.

Hi Wrakshamara,

I think you can interpret it as either. They have identical forms and meanings here.

The LearnEnglish Team