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: 4.3 (55 votes)

Sorry, i made a mistake.
i wanted to say this sentence
The old woman walked slowly to the elevator, which was assisted by the porter
Now, is this correct?( reduced non-defining relative clause)

Hello again hanieh1315,

I'm afraid that sentence doesn't make sense to me. It means that the porter assisted the elevator. I suppose that is conceivably possible, but I doubt that's what you mean.

The reduced clause needs to be next to its antecedent.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a way to rewrite your sentence with a reduced relative clause. But if you change it a little, something like 'The porter assisting the old woman walked slowly with her to the elevator' would be possible.

Or you could put a past participle clause (which has a passive meaning) first: 'Assisted by the porter, the old woman walked slowly to the elevator'. But that's not a reduced relative clause.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by nekhpk on Mon, 08/05/2023 - 08:09

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Hello

1.Checked the money , she went
shopping.
2.Checking the money , she went shopping.
Could you please tell me which one is correct?

Hello nekhpk,

1 is not grammatically correct. 2 is correct, but please note almost no one would ever say it in most situations -- this sounds like a fairly common situation, but a participle clause such as this one is quite formal.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by himakochan on Wed, 29/03/2023 - 14:30

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Hi LearnEnglish team, I have a question:
The police accused him of ________ fire to the building but he denied ________ in the area on the night of the fire.
(A) setting / being
(B) setting / having been
(C) set / be
(D) having set / having been

What is the difference between "being" and "having been". Thanks for helping me! Have a good day <3

Hello himakochan,

'being' is time-'neutral' here, in other words, it can refer to any time period. 'having been' would suggests that the action occurred just before another action or that they are somehow connected.

In this case, since the phrase 'on the night of the fire' already clearly indicates the time and so 'being' is the correct choice. 'having been' is unnatural with such a specific time adverbial already describing the situation.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by himakochan on Wed, 29/03/2023 - 06:54

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Hi team! Can I use both " Having found" and " After having found" for this sentence: ... a hotel, we went to the beach.
Thanks for your help ❤️

Submitted by Amir__760__ on Wed, 15/03/2023 - 09:02

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Hello support
Is the the sentence below correct? And is it a participle?
when I thought about translating, I didn't know you should pay attention to texts being old or new.