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)

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Mon, 23/05/2022 - 07:55


Sir, As we know, (At) shows a fixed/particular point and (In) shows large space, so Can, In the first sentence [remembrance of my grandfather] be accepted as a fixed point because It tells about only one person??; Whereas In the 2nd example it is told about [the remembrance of martyrs of 1972 war] Can we take it as large space/ prospect.
Hence, In 1st sentence (AT) is suitable and In 2nd sentence (In) is suitable to me.
1.At/In the remembrance of my grandfather, a ceremony was held at the church.
2. In/At the remembrance of martyrs of 1972 war, a programme will be held under the supervision of Home Ministry.
Please let me know If I am correct.

Hello Gopal,

It's not clear to me if 'the remembrance' refers to a ceremony, i.e. what is often called a 'memorial service', or if it's more abstract, i.e. referring more to people remembering those who have passed on.

If it's the latter, i.e. if that first clause clarifies the purpose of the ceremony or programme, then the phrase commonly used is 'In remembrance of' (notice that it's not 'in *the* remembrance of').

So unless I've misunderstood the intended meaning, only 'in' is correct in sentence 1. In sentence 2, if the word 'remembrance' means the same thing as it does in sentence 1, then 'in' is the only correct option.

But if 'the remembrance' refers to a bigger event, of which the programme is a smaller part, then I'd chose 'at'. Though I think 'in' could also be OK.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Understood and the latter meaning is what I have perceived form an error detection book on English. Thank you sir!!
Sir, I would like to draw your attention to one point that 'remembrance'(=memorial service) is the main purpose and ceremony is a one of its parts, so we should use preposition IN instead of AT. As It(=remembrance) is the main purpose and rest of the thing is a one of its parts, It(=remembrance) must be considered to be a large space.
As we know, one of the meaning of IN is that It can express the meaning of (Inside and intention/pupose).
Please let me know if my explation holds water.

Hi again Gopal,

What I meant was that 'in remembrance of my grandfather' means something like 'in order to remember and honour my grandfather'. So I understand sentence 1 to mean that a ceremony was held at the church to remember my grandfather. In this case, 'at the remembrance' is not correct -- only 'in remembrance' -- because it's not an event but rather the purpose of the event.

Re: sentence 2, I'm honestly not sure what to say. It sounds odd to me to say that the memorial service is a purpose. I'd say the purpose of a memorial service is to remember, and the ceremony -- which in my mind is another word for the memorial service -- also has the purpose of remembering. It's difficult to say more without knowing what exactly the different words in the sentence are referring to.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Gopal,

I'm happy to help you more with this, but I'd need to know more precisely what the two sentences you are asking about mean.

Also, while it's true that in general 'at' is used to speak about a particular point and 'in' is used for larger spaces, this is not an iron-clad rule that will tell you which one is best in every situation. Prepositions in English are quite irregular due to variance in usage with particular words and phrases.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by shell on Sun, 17/04/2022 - 20:59


sir i want to ask a question whats the difference between perfect participle and perfect gerund when do we know having +v3 is used as gerund or participle

Hi shell,

It's a good question! But there isn't a clear answer here. It is often ambiguous whether to call it a participle or a gerund. On this page we have used the term 'participle', but you may find other references that use the term 'gerund', and some sources prefer to call them simply '-ing forms' to avoid this confusion.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gopal Debnath on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 20:51


Hello team, I have come again with a new problem of preposition, and I hope you will help me as you do alway.
As we know, Prepositon is a relating word which relates a noun or a pronoun after it to another parts of speech in a sentence,and gives a complete sense.
I have found myself in a fix at one question-----[ I saw the man at the grocery store.] Here, does the preposition,AT, relate the grocery store to the verb, SAW or a man ??
If I ask myself where did I saw the man ??, the answer is AT the grocery store
the whole preposition phrase is acting as an adverb.
Please make me be out of this baffling problem !!!

Hello Gopal Debnath,

In your sentence 'at the store' is a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases add more information to nouns, adjectives or verbs so they can have adjectival or adverbial functions in the sentence.

In your example the function is ambiguous. The prepositional phrase could describe where you saw the man (Where did I see the man?) or it could describe where the man was when you saw him (Which man did you see?). Without a broader context it is not possible to resolve this ambiguity.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Parikenan on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 13:48


Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I would like to know if it is grammatically correct to say,
"I would recommand not visiting the museum."

Thank you.