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)

Dear Teacher, I would be grateful if you could tell me if the following is correct in appraisal wrirting:

1) Having had stayed in her post for XX years, she was conversant with...
2) Having stayed in her post for XX years, she was conversant with...

Thank you!

Hi,

I'm a little confused as to which option is the correct one to use in this sentence:

They were getting tired because they ____________ in the queue for over 2 hours.

Would it be:
- were standing
- had been standing
- stood

Thank you in advance.

Hello Moonshine1,

This doesn't seem to have anything to do with Participle clauses!

In this case, 'had been standing' is the best option. It explains the situation the people were in that resulted in them getting tired.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question. Which of the two is grammatically correct?

1. I was shocked at the company imposing a weak disciplinary action.
2. I was shocked that the company imposed a weak disciplinary action.

I was wondering if the first sentence can be used as a particle construction.

Hi The Learn English Team,

Could you please explain the following sentences?
'I want to tell you about the opportunities that are open to you,'
'He brought about a lot of changes that were not useful.'
Can the relative pronoun and 'be' verb be omitted in both sentences? If so, it seems the first one sounds ok, but the second one's sort of weird without them.

Thanks in advance.
Judy

Hi jujululuw,

You cannot omit the relative pronoun in either sentence.

 

Relative pronouns can be omitted when they are not the subject of the verb in the relative clause. For example:

I want to tell you about the opportunities that we opened to you.

In this sentence the verb in the relative clause is 'opened'. The subject is 'we'. Therefore, the relative pronoun can be omitted.

I want to tell you about the opportunities that are open to you

In this sentence (your sentence) the verb in the relative clause is 'are'. The subject is 'that'. Therefore, the relative pronoun cannot be omitted.

Your other sentence is similar: 'were' is the verb and 'that' is the subject.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!
I have difficulty with the following sentence:
'Moving that quick his coat, bunching, tongues swirling like so many flames.'
I don't quite catch the meaning of what is written and don't understand why the commas are placed that way. Moreover, there seems to be no main clause in this sentence. This example is taken from the book "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner. To be honest, there are lots of difficulties for me in this book, therefore I will be very grateful if you help me with this sentence.
I attach the full paragraph with the above phrase:

“Come here, sir,” Jewel says. He moves. Moving that quick his coat, bunching, tongues swirling like so many flames. With tossing mane and tail and rolling eye the horse makes another short curvetting rush and stops again, feet bunched, watching Jewel. Jewel walks steadily toward him, his hands at his sides. Save for Jewel’s legs they are like two figures carved for a tableau savage in the sun.

Thank you in advance,
Assel Mukhtarova.

Hello Assel,

The short answer is that the sentence is not grammatical! It's part of a literary work and is written to create an impression rather than in accordance with strict grammatical rules. The best way to understand a sentence like this it is to think of it as a series of impressions - a series of images - rather than try to decipher it in terms of its grammatical structure.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I have two sentences,

1. The term of
taste is
commonly
used when we
talk about
food.
2. The term of
taste is
commonly
used when we
are talking
about food.

Do they both have the same meaning ?

Does "The talking about food" in the second sentence express a continuous activity in the same way as the use of the present continuous tense ?

Thank You very much,

Parikenan.

Hello Parikenan,

In these sentences the simple form has the sense of 'whenever we do x' while the continuous form suggests 'during this activity'. Both are acceptable ways of looking at this and both are correct. I think it's really just a question of style in this case.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

No instances have so far been found in which a participle clauses are used as extraposed object. Hope there will be useful discussion on this topic.

Hi, Greetings,

My query is whether a present participle modifier can be used to modify another present participle modifier?

For eg. in the following sentence, the modifier gives the result of the action.
--A desecrated B, provoking riots.
Would the following be correct:-

-- A desecrated B, provoking riots, forcing the police to ......

Does the modifier " forcing the police to...." correctly modifies the modifier "provoking riots" as a result of it.

I want to understand whether there's a concept such as consecutive modifiers, a modifier modifying a previous modifier that modifies a previous clause.

Any suggestions will be immensely helpful

Hi rahul5843,

Yes, it's quite possible to build a sequence of consequences like this:

There was an earthquake, causing many building to fall, leading to many people being homeless, resulting in many problems for families with young children.

However, sentences like this are often ambiguous. It's not clear if we are talking about a range of consequences from a single event (x causes a, b, c and d) or a sequence of cascading consequences (x causes a, a causes b, b causes c and c causes d). To avoid this ambiguity we can use lexical markers:

There was an earthquake, causing many building to fall, leading in turn to many people being homeless, and finally resulting in many problems for families with young children.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Is this sentence correct ? Knowing that he wouldn't be able to buy food on his journey, he took large supplies with him .If it is , how can we use knowing and it is a stative verb!

Hello Mahmoudlatif,

The sentence is correct.

In this sentence, knowing is not a continuous form (present continuous, for example) but a participle, which is a non-finite verb form. Stative verbs are generally not used with the continuous aspect but they do have participle forms, so you can find present participles like being, knowing, understanding, liking, loving etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir ,
Could you please give further explanation on using the present participle and the past participle at the beginning of a sentence ?

Hello again Mahmoudlatif,

The page is intended to give this kind of general information so I'm not what we can add to it. However, if you have a more specific question about a particular example or if you have something you would like to say but are not sure about then we'll be happy to respond as best as we can.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

would you please explain what the difference is between (In the backdrop of/Against the backdrop of) with examples.

Hi Gopal Debnath,

I just want to give a reminder to please keep comments and questions related to the content on the page above. We're happy to help, but we hope to keep the discussion comments more focused in this way. Thanks!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

please have a look at a part of a newspaper report from Newspaper--- 1.The survivor in 2017 actor sexual assault has approached the Hight court seeking to restrain the crime branch from fiiling its final report. SIR, would it be wrong to put preposition (OF )instead of (IN) in the sentece (The survivor of 2017actor sexual assault........) Please reply!!!

Hello Gopal Debnath,

Neither sentence is completely correct as it stands. You could say either of these:

1.The survivor in a 2017 sexual assault case (involving an actor) has approached the High Court seeking to prevent the crime branch from filing its final report

2. The survivor of a 2017 sexual assault (involving an actor) has approached...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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,
Kirk
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,
Kirk
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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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.
Parikenan.

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.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

Jonathan

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 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!
Anna

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!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

Hi HieuNT,

About 1, if you say "We all want to see him ...", that would mean that it is still possible for that to happen. But since it's not possible any more (because, as you may know, Kun Agüero has officially retired from football), "wanted" is the correct tense.

About 2, yes - you're along the right lines. The sentence is saying that scoring that goal on that important occasion was him "stepping up in the biggest game".

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!

Thanks for this useful post! Can you help figure out if the following sentence is correct?

"Doing groceries for home, it’s easy to lose your mind and buy too much."

To me it seems wrong. Shouldn't the main clause start with "you", not the anonymous "it" — "Doing groceries for home, you can lose …"

If my suspicion is correct, could explain the grammar behind it?

Hi mainsdorff,

It's true that the implied subject of a participle clause (e.g. Doing groceries from home) is usually the same as the subject of the main clause. However, this is not always the case.

I think the important thing to note is that the participle clause has an implied subject, rather than an explicit one. That means that the reader/listener must make some inference about it. In this example, although the grammatical subject of the main clause is it, as you pointed out, this is only a dummy subject and refers to lose your mind. So, it's clear enough that the intended meaning for readers/listeners is that 'you' is the subject of 'doing groceries'. This is not considered an error as long as the intended meaning is clear.

Your version of the sentence is also fine and means the same thing.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I have come across a new sentence in one of India's leading dailies.

1.Mr.Reddy shoot to fame defeating Mr. Narshima rao,former Prime minster of India.
Here, (Defeating Mr. Narshima rao) gives the answer of How Mr. Reddy shoot to fame.
But, It is adverb of means or methode instead of adverb of manner.
So can I put preposition"BY" before "Defeating".

2. Criticizing the government about snooping on the private life through pegasus, Opposition leader raised questions on the intention of the Government.

Here, (Criticizing....) gives the answer of How opposition leader raised questions.And, it is the adverb of manner instead of adverb of means or methode
3. Sitting on a bench in the park, Two elderly persons discussed
about the current situation.
Here, (Sitting on a bench in the park) gives the answer of what is state of them instead of how they discussed.
So, (-ing form ) is simply acting as an adjective by modifying the subject(Two elderly persons)
Can I also re-write this vey one in this way [just by placing "While" before "SITTING"]--
While Sitting on a bench in the park, Two elderly persons..........
Here (While.....) phrase is acting as adverb of time.
SO, Can I draw a conclusion that Participle phrase can act as an ADJECTIVE AND ADVERB as well.
Please reply to me whether the above explanations are valid, especially the THIRD ONE.

Waiting eagerly for your reply Mr. peter M or Mr.Jhonathan.🙏