Participle clauses

Participle clauses

Do you know how to use participle clauses to say information in a more economical way? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Language level

Average: 4.2 (81 votes)

Hi Parikenan,

Yes, it is correct. It's also possible to say I would not recommend visiting the museum, but the meaning is slightly different. In your sentence, the speaker is recommending something (not visiting). In my sentence, the speaker is not.

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 11:47


Hello Team, You all have been doing a commendable job here by clearing our doubts!!
My question is to Mr. Jonathan R
Sir, I have found two examples , , , one is from merriam Webster and the other one is from a english daily. Here are they-----
1.Using cookie cutters, the children made zoomorphic treats to bring to the bake sale.( source-Merriam Webster)
2. Using OTP pin code, a customer can withdraw cash from an ATM.(Source-Newspaper)
In both cases, the participle phrases have been used as adverb of manner, but as we know, adverb of manner does not directly hepls an action be done[i.e. A group of protesters have been protesting furiously against the president of Srilanka; Here "furiously" is an adverb of manner. It just shows the way in which one action is done, not the way by which one action is done: In simple words, we can say adverb of manner gives a circumstance or an ambient]
Is my explanation on adverb of manner correct??
To make them grammartically correct, can I use preposition(BY) before them to show that they have been used in these two contexts as ADVERB OF MEANS??
If I miss anything or interpret anything wrongly, please correct me.
Eagerly waiting for your precious reply, sir........

Hi Gopal,

These sentences are already grammatically correct. Yes, you can add 'by' to show that the Using clauses are the means. But the clauses also make sense as the manner (i.e., the circumstances of the action). Note that the verb 'use' is quite general in meaning. If the verb was more specific, as in the examples below, then only the 'means' interpretation would be possible, not manner, and 'by' would be needed.

  • By placing cookie cutters on the dough and cutting out shapes, the children made zoomorphic treats.
  • By inputting their OTP pin code, a costumer can withdraw cash.

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much, sir for clearing this. I saw the defination of "Use" at longman dictionary which states- "Use something " means If you use a tool, method etc, you do something with that tool, by means of methode etc, for particular purpose.

Hi Gopal,

Right. In that definition, "do something" and "etc" show that the meaning is quite general.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anna from germany on Sun, 10/04/2022 - 21:32


Hi there,

Would you please help me to shorten this sentence using a participle construction:

Because it has been used for a longer time, your favourite T-shirt has a good ecological footprint. =
-->Beeing used for a longer time, your favourite T-shirt has a good ecological footprint.
-->Having been used for a longer time, your favourite T-shirt has a good ecological footprint.

Can I also start the sentence with "Because"?

Thank you!

Hi Anna,

I would choose the second sentence because it includes Having been used, which is closer to the structure of the original sentence (has been used). The first sentence with Being used may be possible, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the action (used for a longer time) is already finished, as the second sentence does. The first sentence might refer to using the T-shirt for a longer time extending into the future.

Because can't be used with the participle clause. It needs to be followed by a subject and verb, not an -ing form verb.

I hope that helps!


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HieuNT on Thu, 24/02/2022 - 11:30


Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I came across this article:

"We all wanted to see him tear it up at FC Barcelona but his health comes first.

His 426th and last ever goal came in his first El Classico, classic Kun always stepping up in the biggest game."

I have two questions for you:

1/ Why did they say "We all wanted"? I suppose even now the fan still want Aguero to shine at Barclenona. Shouldn't they have used "want" instead of "wanted"? My explanation could be because Aguero can no longer play football, so everything has to stay in the past, an so does the verb "want", right?

2/ Why did they use the participle clauses "classic Kun always stepping up in the biggest games" here? Is it "to add information about the subject of the main clause"?

Look forward to your answers.