Participle clauses

Participle clauses are a form of adverbial clause which enables us to say information in a more economical way. We can use participle clauses when the participle and the verb in the main clause have the same subject. For example:

Waiting for John, I made some tea.

Waiting for John, the kettle boiled. [This would suggest that the kettle was waiting for John!]

 

Forming participle clauses

Participle clauses can be formed with the present participle (-ing form of the verb) or past participle (third form of the verb). Participle clauses with past participles have a passive meaning:

Shouting loudly, Peter walked home. [Peter was shouting]

Shouted at loudly, Peter walked home. [Someone was shouting at Peter]

If we wish to emphasise that one action was before another then we can use a perfect participle (having + past participle):

Having won the match, Susan jumped for joy.

Having been told the bad news, Susan sat down and cried.

 

 

The meaning and use of participle clauses

Participle clauses give information about condition, reason, result or time. For example:

 

CONDITION (in place of an if-condition):

Looked after carefully, this coat will keep you warm through many winters.

Compare: If you look after it carefully, this coat will keep you warm through many winters.

 

REASON (in place of words like so or therefore):

Wanting to speak to him about the contract, I decided to arrange a meeting.

Compare: I wanted to speak to him about the contract so I decided to arrange a meeting.

 

RESULT (in place of words like because or as a result):

I had no time to read my book, having spent so long doing my homework.

Compare: I had no time to read my book because I had spent so long doing my homework.

 

TIME (in place of words like when, while or as soon as):

Sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home.

Compare: While I was sitting at the cafe with my friends, I suddenly realised that I had left the oven on at home.

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Hello! Could you provide any references on perfect participles and sentence structure? We have been taught that a perfect participle is always followed by an object? I haven't found any relevant source with this info yet. Thanks in advance!

Hello Helen31,

A perfect participle is formed with [having + past participle]: having slept, having eaten, having spoken. It indicates an action which was completed in the past.

You can form perfect participles with transitive verbs (with an object) or intransitive verbs (without an object), so an object is not always required. For example:

Having risen early, I had a long wait for the train. [no object]

Having asked my questions, I left the room.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again. This is very hard to understand Participle Clause. I wrote some sentenses that give information about time, result and etc. Could you check them, please?

Condition
Went to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.
If you go to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.

Reason
Wanting to go away, he left the concert.
He wanted to go away so he left the concert.

Result
It being late, he bolted the windows.
Because it’s late, he bolted the windows.

Time

Singing the song, the doorbell rang.
When I was singing the song, the doorbell rang.

Thanks in advance.

And could you explain about the subject in the participle clause? Can we use it ot not?

Hello ifencing,

There are some problems with the sentences:

 

Condition
Went to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.
If you go to Paris tomorrow, you will attend the meeting.

The problem here is that you are trying to use 'went' as a passive form, just as 'Look after carefully' in the example is a passive form. However, the verb 'go' does not have a passive form because it is an intransitive verb.

The use of participles for conditions is quite unusual. The meaning is 'provided that...' or 'in the case that...' and establishes a requirement for the result, rather than describing possibility.

 

Reason
Wanting to go away, he left the concert.
He wanted to go away so he left the concert.

Grammatically, this is fine. However, it is rather trivial and repetitive. Leaving is the same as going away, so there is no real reason provided here. The participle should tell us something rather than simply repeat the information in the main clause. For example, you could say Wanting to be alone, ...

 

Result
It being late, he bolted the windows.
Because it’s late, he bolted the windows.

This is fine.

 

Time

Singing the song, the doorbell rang.
When I was singing the song, the doorbell rang.

This sentence is incorrect. Remember that the actor is the same for both parts of the sentence, so your sentence suggests that the doorbell was singing the song. The sentence could read Singing the song, I heard the doorbell.

 

Please note that we generally do not provide this kind of extended feedback. We're happy to answer questions about our material and about English in general but we have many thousands of users and are a small team, so providing comments on lists of sentences is not generally possible for us, unfortunately.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Can you tell me if the sentenses are correct?
Closing my eyes, I felt fresh air.
Closing my eyes, I feel fresh air.
Closing my eyes, I will feel fresh air.
I changed the tense in the main clause. Does it sound normal?
Thanks in advance

Hello ifencing,

Yes, all of those are grammatically correct. The participle is a non-finite verb form and has no time reference of its own. It takes its time reference from the verb in the main clause.

Obviously, whether or not the sentence makes sense will depend upon the context in which it is used.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

There is not a task in this section.

Hello eliskh,

That's correct -- this section only have explanations, but no exercises. Most of our English Grammar pages do have exercises.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I ducked into an arched doorway heading for the subway.
In this sentence, does present participle 'Heading' refer to the doorway or the subject of the sentence 'I' ?

I think it refers to the doorway because it's after it.

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