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)

Hi Gopal Debnath,

1. Yes, you can add 'by' if 'defeating Mr. Narshima rao' is the means of shooting to fame. But could 'defeating Mr. Narshima rao' be the result of shooting to fame, rather than the means? To me, reading the sentence alone, it could also mean that, and it is unclear which meaning is intended.

2. It could be the manner or the means (in which case, I would prefer to add 'by'). Both make sense to me.

3. Yes, you can add 'while'. These are two independent, simultaneous actions. But "Sitting on a bench in the park" is an adverbial that modifies the whole other clause. It doesn't just modify "Two elderly persons". It's not an adjective because the meaning is not that the elderly persons are "sitting-on-a-bench-in-the-park elderly persons". Sitting on the bench is just an action simultaneous to their discussion. 

If it functioned as an adjective, it would be "Two elderly persons sitting on a bench in the park discussed the current situation." When it functions as an adjective, the participle clause usually directly follows the noun.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, In 3rd example Can I call the participle phrase a sentence adverb??
because It is modifying the whole clause rather than the subject( Two elderly persons) or the verb( discussing..).
While waiting for your valuable reply to my questions, I have come across a few new sentences from an online source; They are---
1. A little boy went out of the room, crying.
Here, (Crying) is neither modifying the subject(A little boy) nor the verb( went).But, it is modifying the complete clause and It( crying) is an Independent action occurring at the same time frame.
2. A drunk person went staggering.
It is given the (Staggering) is an adverb of manner because It is answering to the question of how that drunk person went.
But, To me ,It seems as adverb of means because One action ( went) depends on the other action(staggering) to be accomplished Or I can see this in this way that (That drunk person went) as result of (Staggering) ????
Do my explanations hold water??
Kindly reply,sir!!!

Hi Gopal Debnath,

I guess you could think of it as a sentence adverbial. However, the term 'sentence adverb' normally refers to a word such as 'Unfortunately' or 'Honestly' which expresses the writer's opinion.

I agree with you about sentence 1.

About sentence 2, I should point out that the verb 'went' seems incomplete, and it should be 'went out', 'went past', 'went home', etc. I also understand 'staggering' as the manner. If it is not the manner but the means, the sentence should provide clearer information about the method of the man going out/past/home, e.g. That drunk person went out, (by) staggering though the doorway.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Last one doubt: 1. An elderly man slipped and fell on the ground.
To transform this sentence into a simple sentence, I can see the above sentence in this way---
(fell) is the result of the action, SLIP
,but the he did not intend to slip.
It happened unintentionally,so It is an impersonal cause
so, 1. by being slipped, An elderly fell on the ground.
2. Being slipped, An elderly man fell on the ground.
Which one is correct??
Please explain explicitly,sir!!

Hello Gopal,

Neither of those are correct. 'slip' is an intransitive verb and so doesn't make sense in the passive.

You could say 'Slipping, an elderly man fell on the ground' or 'Having slipped, ...', but really the most natural sentence would be 1.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Is it personal cause??
to me, It is impersonal cause, because he did not intend to slip.
Please clear this doubt by explaining explicitly!!

Hello Gopal,

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the framework of 'personal' or 'impersonal' causes that you seem to be using to analyse this grammar.

As I think we've mentioned before, we're not able to provide the service of regularly analysing sentences that our users create, as our main purpose in the comments is to help our users with the materials available on our site. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Jonathan sir, At first thank you for replying.
Last examples--
1.Two friends went trekking in the cherad Hill and they tried to cross a crevice, jumping, but one of them got stuck in crevice.The other succeeded. Then, he went down the hill to get help of some people. While he is midway, a tiger came out of bush,jumping.

Here, (1).Is (Trekking) gerund (2) both (Jumping) is acting as an adverb of manner.

2. My friend was driving a car at moderate speed,but a taxi driver suddenly came before him and he had to stop his car (by) pressing break to avoid an accident.
Here, (PRESSING) is acting as an adverb of manner rather than that of means or methode, Because manner means the way in which one performed an action and means indicates the methode with which one performed an action.
Here, It seems to me as an adverb of means. If I am wrong in my explanations ,please correct me by explaining explicitly.
Please do reply!!

Submitted by Parikenan on Sun, 30/01/2022 - 22:33

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Hello The LearningEnglish team,

I have often misplaced these two prepositions, "to" for "for" or vice versa. Especially when it (the preposition) is followed by gerund phrases.

I have got a paragraph as an example here.

“At the end of the lunch, I asked David if he thought it would be possible to create a small, easy-to-use guide “to” reading a company's financial statement, using the unique set of tools Warren had developed “for” uncovering these wonderfully profitable businesses.”

From the sentences above, If I misplaced “to” reading with “for” reading and “for” uncovering with “to” uncovering, would it much change the fundamental meaning of the sentences ?

And, is there a formula related to the use of these two prepositions
( to and for ) that are followed by gerund phrases ?

Thank You,
Hudi Parikenan.

Hello Parikenan,

Mastering when to use 'to' and 'for' is indeed a significant challenge. While there are some patterns to their use, ultimately the reason we use one or the other depends on the phrases they appear with and what the meaning is.

The main thing to consider is the word or phrase before the preposition. In the first example from your passage, 'to' is used with 'guide'. By taking a look in a good dictionary (e.g. this Longman entry https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/guide), you can find 'guide to' under entry 3. As it shows, a 'guide to X' is a book that explains topic X. That fits the meaning of your passage, where the guide explains how to read the financial statement.

By the way, although it's more difficult to find, if you search that same dictionary entry, you can also see 'guide for' in the 4th example in the 'Examples from the Corpus' section. In that sentence ('A guide for hospital staff will be published shortly ...') note that 'for' tells us about the people the guide was made for. So as you can see, it's possible to use both 'to' and 'for' after 'guide', but the former tells us about the topic of the guide and the latter tells us about who it was written for.

Unfortunately, it's not always this easy, which we can see with the second example from your passage, where 'for' follows the verb 'had developed' and clearly speaks about purpose. Some research in the same dictionary shows only one use of 'developed for' and none of 'developed to'. In the case of the Cambridge Dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/develop), I could find 'developed to allow' (also talking about purpose, though notice here it's followed by an infinite and not an '-ing' form) and none of 'developed for'.

In a case like this, it's probably safest to use 'develop' + an infinitive of purpose since an infinitive of purpose is used in many different contexts. But using 'for' + an '-ing' form is also correct here, even if it's more difficult to find in dictionaries.

I wish there were a clearer formula that I could give you, but as far as I know there isn't.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HieuNT on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 20:35

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Hello The LearningEnglish team,

I have some questions about reducing relative clause with participle clause.

1) Can we reduce a non-defining relative clause? For example:
a1> The house, built in 1883, has just been opened to the public.
a2> Alice, working in Brussels and London ever since leaving Edinburgh, will be starting a teaching course in the autumn.

Or we have to write out the full clause:
b1>The house, which was built in 1883, has jut been opened to the public.
b2> Alice, who has worked in Brussels and London ever since leaving Edinburgh, will be starting a teaching course in the autumn.

In these examples, if <a1> and <a2> are possible, can we use it in writing, especially in formal contexts?

2) In this example:
> The bomb exploded, destroying the whole building.

Can we replace the participle clause ('destroying...') with 'which' that refers to the whole previous clause ('The bomb exploded')?
> The bomb exploded, which destroyed the whole building.

If so, can we say that we have used the participle clause to reduce the which-clause?

Between a participle clause and 'which' (refers to a previous clause), which is preferred in writing (more formal contexts).

Look forward to your answers.
Hieu Nguyen

Hello Hieu Nguyen,

Both a1 and a2 are perfectly acceptable in both written and spoken English.

I dislike the term 'reduced relative clause', to be honest. Grammatically speaking, it's a misnomer. The correct way to think about these sentences is not that you are taking a relative clause and reducing it, but rather that you are choosing between two possible clauses: a relative clause and a participle (-ed or -ing) clause. Thus, the real question is not 'Can relative clauses be reduced?' but 'Is it possible to use participle clauses here?'

In your second example both the relative clause and the participle clause are correct. I don't think either is more preferable in written English. Rather, it's a question of personal style, consistency within the text and rhetorical effect.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Mr. Peter,

While waiting for the answers, I did some research myself and I'm aware that the term "reduced relative clause" is a misnomer. But honestly, I've never thought the issue could be easily resolved by making the problem become the choice between a relative clause and a participle clause . Your answer really gave me a different perspective on this topic. I really thank you for that!

However, there's still something bothering me. I came across this article on the Cambridge blog. (https://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2015/10/10/grammar-beyond-7/)

In the article, the author argues that "it is not usually grammatical to reduce non-identifying adjective clauses when the verb is in the continuous form (is studying) or passive (is built).", which means sentences like these would be incorrect:

a> Lynn, studying chemistry, wants to become a doctor.
b> My parents' house, damaged in the hurricane, was a complete disaster.

Instead, he said that we should "reduce non-identifying adjective clause" if "the reduction" create an appositive clause (that is, a clause which essentially gives another name to the noun it modifies), as in:

c> Lynn, (who is) my neighbour, is studying chemistry.
d> My parents' house, (which is) located near the beach, survived the hurricane.

To be honest, I don't see much difference between his 4 examples. I think we can kind of "reduce" all of them as you said.

Also, I've found some more examples in the "Oxford Guide to English Grammar by John Eastwood, section 276" supporting your explanation:

e> To Robin, sunbathing on the beach, all his problems seemed far away.
f> The first British TV commercial, broadcast in 1955, was for toothpaste.

The question here is that was the author of the article wrong? And we can always use a "participle clause" or an "adjective/adverbial phrase" or an "appositive" in the place of a full relative clause, can't we?

Hieu Nguyen

Hello again Hieu Nguyen,

I don't think the author is wrong as they hedge their comment with 'usually', making it a description of what is common or typical rather than a fixed rule. I think what they say is correct. For example, while both of these sentences are grammatically possible, the second is preferable in terms of style and convention:

1) Lynn, studying chemistry, wants to become a doctor.
2) Lynn, a chemistry student, wants to become a doctor.

I think the -ing clause is more common when we are describing an action in progress. In other words sentence 1 seems clumsy to me while sentence 2 is perfectly fine:

1) Lynn, studying chemistry, wants to become a doctor.
2) To Robin, sunbathing on the beach, all his problems seemed far away.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sun, 16/01/2022 - 07:36

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1.While Taking a cup of coffee, My Grand father told us a story about his visit to Mussoorie.
sir, Can I drop "While"??
and rewrite this sentence above in this way--- [ Taking a cup of coffee, My grand father told us a story about his visit to Mussoorie OR My grand father, taking a cup of coffee, told us a story about his visit to Mussoorie.]
2. My dog snores while sleeping.
Can I drop "While" in this sentence too??
and, Rewrite it in this way ----[My dog snores sleeping OR Sleeping, My dog snores].
Please do reply!!🙏🙏

Hello Gopal,

Yes, you could drop 'while' and yes, you could rewrite the sentence as you suggest. I would use a different style, but these are all fine grammatically.

In the second sentence, I wouldn't rewrite the sentence in either of the ways you suggest.

As I think Peter and Jonathan have suggested, I'd recommend you analyse participle clauses that you find in your reading or listening as a way to learn how they are used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Gopal,

How exactly I'd write them would depend on the context, but for the first one I might say: My grandfather had a cup of coffee and told us about his visit to Mussoorie.

Your first version of the second sentence ('My dog snores while sleeping') is fine, or I might just say 'My dog snores', since snoring implies one is sleeping.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Tue, 04/01/2022 - 13:28

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Sir(Jonathan), I would like to draw to your kind attention to have a look at the contexts and get your suggestion if I have made any mistake in transforming the sentence into simple sentence. 1.In Afghanistan, Many people were uprooted and they have taken shelter in many countries such as-India, France, U.S.A etc. can I transform it into simple sentence ---- since,[ (Many people were uprooted) shows the cause, but It is a impersonal cause and It was not a motivation for them to leave their mother-land.And, the rest is its effect(result) Now, I wonder which preposition I shall choose between IN and BY, or both are suitable in this context.] (In/By) being uprooted from Afghanistan, Many people have taken shelter in many countries such as- India,France,U.S.A,etc. 2. the father of my dearest friend got infected with Covid-19 and, as a result, he died prematurely. can I write it in simple sentence-- [(the father of my dearest friend got infected with Covid-19) shows cause, but it is an impersonal cause. And the rest is the result] (In/By) getting infected with Covid-19, the father of my dearest friend died prematurely. Are my explanations correct?? Please do reply sir!!!

Hi Gopal Debnath,

Actually I would use "After" instead of "by" or "in" in these two sentences.

"By" shows the method of doing something. But it often implies a deliberate choice (e.g. "By studying hard, she improved her knowledge"), which does not fit in your sentences.

"In" shows that the one action is an integral part of another (see the examples in point 8 on this page: https://www.lexico.com/definition/in). That means the actions normally happen together: when one happens, the other also happens at the same time. "In" might work in your first sentence if we understand "uprooted" and "taken shelter" as happening at the same time, but I would normally think some time passes between these actions, so I would use "after" as my first choice. "In" doesn't work in the second example because some time must pass between one action and the other.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

But, sir, The statement written by you does not show any 'reason' except 'time'. I would like to draw one example discussed by Peter M. Here it is--
By destroying the world's forests, human-being has hastened the effect of global warming.(Mr. Peter M told me to add preposition BY)
If I change this simple sentence into complex and compound sentence, It would look like ----
1. Human-being are destroying the world's forests ,and, as a result, the effect of global warming has been hastened.(Compound)
2. Human-being has hastened the effect of global warming because they are destroying the world's forests.(which is clearly not personal cause and motivation for them; one action causes the other action)
[By destroying the world's forests, human-being has hastened the effect of global warming]
In this sentence [(By destroying the world's forests) does not show any deliberate choice.
so, One request to you that please explain it clearly.
I would be obliged to you if You(Jonathan) and Peter M discuss this explicitly.
Will be wating for your reply!!!
Please do reply!!🙏🙏

Hi Gopal Debnath,

‘By’ shows a method or means by which something is done. Yes, it’s true that it’s not always a deliberate choice. But my point was that that is a typical context for using ‘by’. Returning to your examples, ‘being uprooted’ is the cause of ‘taking shelter’ but is it the method or means? A method/means leads more directly to the result. A more typical means would be, e.g. ‘By crossing borders, many people have taken shelter in other countries’. That is why I suggested using ‘after’ in your sentence instead.

You say that ‘after’ does not show any reason, only time. But in real life, we infer that cause/effect relationship, because the actions make sense that way. It would be unlikely for someone to interpret them as unconnected. This may not be apparent if your focus is on transforming the sentence from one structure to another in a kind of mathematical way, as you are trying to do. But language is not a mathematical system, and even some apparently equivalent sentences such as “The virus infected him” and “He was infected by the virus” differ in nuance, emphasis and context of usage. The point is that meaning comes not just from individual words but also from the sentence/text overall, and the context in which it is said or written. Without considering these other levels of meaning, the sentences you make may be grammatically possible but sound unusual, as we have pointed out before.

This is a good example of why finding a private teacher would be better for these questions. Your questions raise multiple issues needing corrections and explanations, which is difficult to do in the comments here. That makes us worry that our answers may be confusing you rather than helping. Also, by replying further, we don’t want to take you further down the road of a narrow focus on grammar, which we have already recommended against.
So I’m sorry to say that we think it is better not to continue these discussions here any more, but instead suggest that you find a teacher who can interact more closely with you than we can. Or, perhaps you may like to try a discussion forum – have you heard of Stack Exchange? https://english.stackexchange.com/

We wish you the best in your studies.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

I have understood the point that I was not able to grasp earlier. However, You have helped me a lot by replying and It(the discussion) has taught a lot of new things to me. Thank you and Happy new year🥰🥰.

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 20:41

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SIR, (Mr.Peter M) I would like draw your humble attention to these three doubts. I hope you help me understand this by answering to my questions.
1.Walking down the stairs, A gentleman was speaking on phone.
In this context (Walking down the stairs) gives the answer of 'When'. So, It is an 'ADVERB' phrase.
2.COMING, A BULLET PIERCED A SOLDIER IN THE BATTLE FIELD.
(COMING) GIVES THE ANSWER OF ADVERB(OF MANNER), "HOW".
SO, IT IS AN ADVERBIAL PHRASE.
3.[COMING LATE, HE COULDN'T CATCH THE TRAIN]
Here, {He was not motivated by the fact,(Coming late); so It is an Impersonal cause}
It would be better to say(saying)this------
In coming late, He couldn't catch the train.
ARE MY EXPLANATIONS CORRECT??
PLEASE DO REPLY!!

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

I think you're going about this the wrong way. You're trying to reduce the language system to very fixed rules and then create sentences to test those rules but the examples you're creating are not examples of natural language even if they are grammatically correct. For example, none of the sentences here are accurate for various reasons.

My suggestion to you is this: instead of trying to create examples to fit rules you have identified (which may themselves not be accurate), work from the meaning. Start from a context so you know what you want to say and then think about how to express it. It may well be that a particular grammatical construction is not suitable because of some potential ambiguity or because of some feature of the vocabulary used.

I think working from meaning to expression is a much better approach than going from rule to example. After all, we don't communicate by thinking of rules; we communicate by having a need to say something which makes sense and using the language as a tool to do this.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

I agree with you, sir. However, As this much space is not enough to express my words, I have written short sentences( which are taken from contexts). I will definitely join a one-In-one class on British Council with you.
I hope you to help me in this way in future.
Well, Happy new year!!

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Mon, 27/12/2021 - 10:56

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My question is to Mr. Peter M

1. Seeing my school friend in the coffee house, I approached to him to have a talk.
( Here I was motivated by the fact; I approached to him to have a talk because I saw my school friend in the coffee house(It is the personal motivation and personal cause as well)
2. Noticing a man caught in burning house, his neighbours rushed to his house to help him( Again, His neighbours rushed to his house to help him because He was caught in a burning house; It is the personal motivation and personal cause)
Are my explanations in both examples correct??
Please do reply!!!

Hi Gopal Debnath,

I'm just replying for Peter. We work as a team here :)

Yes, your explanations are right! Nice work.

It's great to see that you're deepening your understanding of grammar. But if I may suggest, some of your questions would be more easily answered by a teacher in a lesson than here in the comments section. Some of your questions need longer and more detailed explanations than we can provide in our limited space and interactions here. We do welcome all questions and try to answer as many as we can, but a teacher (in a private lesson perhaps) might be able to give more individual attention and interaction than we can, if you're looking for in-depth responses.

Best wishes :)

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Mon, 27/12/2021 - 09:26

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He was invited, so he attended the party.
Can I transform them into simple sentence by using participle?
(He was invited)=REASON
(He attended the party)= RESULT
(Invitation) not his motivation rather than CAUSE.
So, can write this way---
BY USING ABSOLUTE PHRASE:------ (He having been invited, he attended the party)
BY USING PREPOSITION
---( In/By having been invited, he attended the party)
PLEASE DO REPLY!!!

He was motivated by the fact that hes was invited.So, it would be better to use present participle, following grammar rule rather than using gerund. Therefore, the simple form would be--- (being) invited, he attended the party.

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Thu, 23/12/2021 - 08:14

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Hello sir, Being angry, John hit his friend onto head with a glass bottle.
Here, John's intention was not to become angry nor was motivated by anger. So, It is clear that It is an impersonal cause.
So, correct form is (In being angry, John hit his friend onto head with a glass bottle)
Is my explanation correct??
Kindly Reply!!

Hello Gopal,

It's not completely clear to me what this sentence means. My best guess, based on looking at it with no other contextual clues, is that it means that John hit his friend because John was angry.

That's a personal cause in my book. It might be that John's anger was caused by something else, but that's not what this sentence seems to be about. It describes how John hit his friend and gives some idea as to why.

I understand that you're trying to learn to use these clauses, but please note that this sentence is quite unnatural. Except for this '-ing' clause at the beginning, it's quite informal, but such '-ing' clauses aren't really used in informal speaking. A far more natural sentence would be something like 'John was angry and his friend on the head with a glass bottle' or 'John was angry and so he hit his friend ...'

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Can I write this in this way, by using ABSOLUTE PHRASE:-----He being angry, he hit his friend on head with a bottle glass.

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

I don't think that's a natural construction. We'd simply use a participle phrase and not repeat the pronoun:
> Being angry, he hit his friend...
> He, being angry, his his friend...

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Thu, 23/12/2021 - 08:00

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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??

Hello Gopal,

I'm afraid I'd rather not explain this sentence because it's really not very natural. I'd suggest something like 'A ball [that was] coming at a great speed hit me', though even that sounds rather strange to me -- it's a strange mix of informal and formal. But in this latter case, as you can see from the brackets, 'coming at a great speed' is a reduced relative clause and is indeed adjectival in function.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I would say that we can write in this way---A ball came at great speed and it hit me.Two actions happened very immidiately. can't I transform into simple sentence by using present participle??

Hi Gopal Debnath,

Grammatically, that would be fine, but I think it's important to remember that grammar is not the only aspect of language.

Your first message used the phrase "with a great speed", which is grammatically OK but less commonly used (i.e., less natural-sounding) than "at great speed", which you used in your last message.

Also, in my view, it would be better to put the subject first: "A ball hit me, coming at great speed". This way, it's clear to readers straight away what thing was "coming at great speed".

And another thing to consider is that the verb "coming" might be redundant. We could just say "A ball hit me at great speed", with the same meaning. Often, speakers prefer more economical and simpler phrasings.

So, overall, it's good to practise grammar but try to remember that not all grammatically correct sentences are actually or equally used in real life. You should also consider how natural the sentence sounds, as Kirk has suggested, including whether alternative ways of saying the same thing are better.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Wed, 22/12/2021 - 04:46

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Hello, Sir!

1. She walked out the door, her head turning for a last look at home. (her head turning for a last look at home is "Absolute Phrase".)
2. She walked out the door, turning her head for a last look at home. (turning her head for a last look at home is "Participle Phrase".)
I was wondering if the two sentences are the same in meaning and if the actions in both sentences happened simultaneously. Could you please explain how "the absolute phrase(1)" and "the participle phrase(2)" modify the sentences?
Thank you for your valuable time.
Best Wishes!

Hello Sokhom,

In these particular examples there is little difference in meaning. Both sentences describe simultaneous events. However, the first sentence's construction could be used to describe the actions of a different person to the subject of the main clause:

> She walked out of the door, our heads turning to follow her.
> She walked out of the door, the wind lifting her hair.

The second sentence's construction can only be used to describe actions performed by the same actor.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Sun, 19/12/2021 - 08:07

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I went to my grandfather's house on vacation, staying there to revive my chilhood memories.
is this correct to use participle(as to show purpose; because both actions took place in the same time more or less immidiately) in this context grammartically.
Or, Can I write it in this way- I went to my grandfather's house to stay there and to revive my chilhood memories.
Please reply🙏🙏!!

Hello Gopal,

I think the second version of the sentence with an infinitive of purpose ('I went to stay at my grandfather's house to revive my childhood memories') is better since it seems that the purpose of going to his house was to do this.

We'll get to answering your other comments as soon as we can.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, as Mr. peter k said earlier in one of my posted questions that participle clauses can describe motivation or purpose(reason) but not impersonal cause( what makes an action occur). So according to this can I use participle in this context.
at last, Would you please explain the impersonal cause to me.

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

Both forms are grammatically correct. Which is better is a question of style, so that's really a subjective choice.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, reveling the secret, Johnson spoiled the enjoyment of surprise.
1.[can I interpret this context in this way- Johnson's motivation was to revel the secret] - if I interpret this in this way, can I use PRESENT PARTICIPLE.
2. (2nd scenario is that Johnson did not have such intention to revel secret , but he did it by mistake)- if I interpret this way, should I use PREPOSITION (BY or THROUGH)

Hello again Gopal Debnath,

It's hard to be sure when looking at sentences which are removed from any context, but I don't think the first interpretation works. Revealing the secret is not the motivation here, but the action, and the rest of the sentence describes the effect of this action.

The most likely prepositions here are 'by' and 'in', I think, but 'through' is also possible. It's not necessarily true that the revealing was accidental, however. It may be also that Johnson did not mean to spoil anything / did not realise that this would be the result.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team