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

Hello SonuKumar,

As you say, the sentence 'I saw her sleeping' means that you saw her while she was sleeping. The sentence 'I saw her while sleeping' would generally be understood to mean that you saw her while you were sleeping (in a dream, perhaps).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I don't want to stay there because anyone can doubt me. if we have to make this sentence using participle so we can rewrite it like this- By staying there, I don't want anyone to doubt me But If I want to say that I don't want anyone to stay there because they can doubt me, So Could I rewrite this using participle like this- I don't want anyone to doubt me by staying there or ? does phrase "By staying there" make any differences if we move it in front of this sentence and at the end of the sentence ?

Hello SonuKumar,

I'm afraid I still don't really understand your example. To help you express an idea we need to understand it but this sentence does not seem to make sense. Why would staying somewhere cause a person to doubt you? Or is staying an expression of existing doubt? How?

There is little sense in explaining a grammar point through a sentence which itself does not seem to make sense. I suggest you use examples which are logical and unambiguous rather than this kind of highly contrived and unlikely sentence. That way we will be able to help you rather than simply scratching out heads!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I don't want anyone to doubt me by staying there. In this sentence phrase 'By staying there' refers to the one whoever can stay there but I wonder if I want to say that 'I don't want to stay there because anyone can doubt me, So Could I remake this sentence like this- By staying there I don't want anyone to doubt me ? does putting phrase 'By staying there' in front of the sentence change meaning and refer to the subject I of the sentense and change the meaning ?
Hi "Shouted at loudly, Peter walked home." Is this mean, Peter was walking when someone was shouting at him? or Peter walked after someone shouted? Another Question: "Having been told the bad news, Susan sat down and cried." Is Susan who someone tell or hear? Thanks in advance.

Hello Sezin,

The first sentence sounds a bit unnatural to me. 'Having been shouted at, Peter walked home' would sound better, but still quite strange, as this structure isn't used in ordinary conversation, which this sentence appears to be an exmple of.

The second one is correct, but also a bit strange given its familiar tone. Susan is the person who was told the news (i.e. a different person told her) and is also of course the person who sat down and wept.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, could someone help me whether I can put in the following sentence the present continuous tense instead of the simple one? Please read my message to the end. Being students, they didn't have much money and they usually worked as waiters at weekends. So it will be like "Being studens, they weren't having much money and they were working as waiters at weekends" I have read all examples on the page but I don't think my sentence is like those. I tried to compare it to 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. but there is some difference. Realised seems to be a performed and single action. But in my sentence there are to have and work as so I can't think of them as of a performed and single action, it is continuous isn't it? But simple tense can be continuous as well, I know. So can the continuous tense be used there? If can't, tell me why because I can't even understand that thing.

Hello Ingresed,

The continuous aspect would not be used in this sentence. The first verb is 'have', used with a meaning of possession. 'Have' does not occur in the continuous with this meaning. We say 'I have some money' not 'I am having some money', for example.

The second verb appears with an adverb of frequency ('usually'). This shows that it is a regular or typical action and so a simple form is used. If, for example, this was a temporary action then 'were working' would be fine here, but with adverbs of frequency the simple form is much more common.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher, 'I was happy seeing him smile.' In this sentence, 'seeing' is considered gerund or participle? If it is the latter, what should the original sentence be? (before it is reduced to participle) Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

This sentence is not completely unnatural, but the correct form in standard British English would be 'I was happy to see him smile'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Arvo there, I've just got a question on grammar part which I cannot find it either via the Internet or in grammar books. we all know about participle phrases (or clause);" playing football, John broke his leg! " but there is other sentences that I cannot comprehend how they are formed: " speaking, I would say a vast majority of individuals all around the world have serious problems and they are just struggling to find a certain way", it means: "talking about 'speaking' (a skill in a certain language), I would say....". And maybe the original sentence was : if (or when) we are talking about speaking ( or if you ask me about speaking). Nevertheless, no matter which one the original sentence is, i'd like to know what's the rule behind that? ! How and when could I make sentences like this ?!

Hello Aminsoltani45,

To be perfectly honest, that looks like a very awkward construction to me - more like a person trying to replicate in English a structure that is used in another language. You could make a case for it being a form of ellipsis where the full sentence would be something like 'If I were speaking (on this topic)...' but guessing such things without knowing the context of the utterance makes little sense.

If I had to guess, I would say that this is not a standard construction and is either an attempt to recreate in English a form from another language, or else it is a particular rhetorical device using context-dependent ellipsis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Are these two sentences right ? "There are microphones fitted in this room" "This room has microphones fitted in it" Could I also use the verb 'set or fix' rather than fit in these sentences ?
Sir, In the sentence given above by Kasturi Das, He left home, denying and rejecting his own family. Now Because of a comma in this sentence we come to know easily that participles refer to the subject 'He' in this sentence but while listening this sentence or sentences like it How to Know what it refers to ?

Hello SonuKumar,

Participle clauses aren't used much in ordinary speaking, so it's not often that you'd hear a sentence like this. But if you did, there is no other sensible subject that the words could refer to, so that's how one can know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Are these sentences right ? "There are microphones fitted in this room" "This room has microphones fitted in this" and could I also use the verb "set or fix" rather than fit in this same sentence ?
Hello, my IELTS teacher taught me a structure which is some how similar to this present participial phrase, but I'm not sure, could you please help me? all the examples above, have the present tense in the first part and the past tense in the second part: Shouting loudly, Peter walked home. but my teacher asked me to write sentences both in present, here is what she said: Working for 30 years with my father, I should think about my business. Thank you very much.

Hello aunicorn,

It's probably more common to use a present participle to speak about the past, but you can also use it to speak about the present. You can see a few examples on this BBC page. This other BBC page might also be useful.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! I'm a bit confused about the sentence below. He left home, denying and rejecting his own family. Is it correct?

Hello Kastyri Das,

Yes, that sentence is fine and means that the act of leaving home was a denial and rejection of his own family.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers, 1) The participle used in this sentence is related to reason, result, simultaneousness or subject of main clause? 2) Would it have the same meaning if rewritten to: "Denying and rejecting his own family, he left home"? Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

I'm guessing that the original sentence is

He left home, denying and rejecting his own family.

 

The meaning is ambiguous without knowing the context, and is likely to be a question of interpretation in any case. It could simply be actions occurring simultaneously, or there could be a more causal relationship. The structure itself does not make this explicit.

The second version is also possible and it does not change the meaning - it is still ambiguous.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What is Dazzling participle ? Sir, I request you to give two or three example and usage of dazzling participle . When I shall use dazzling participle ? Thanks .
Hallow sir, How are you ? May be fine with the mercy and blessing of God . Well, Sir , By mistake , Dazzling Participle that was mistyped , The correct term is "Dangling participle " . I heard the term from Oxford Advanced learner's dictionary . As far as I know , Dangling participle that relates to a noun that is not mentioned . Dangling participles aren't considered correct . In the sentence " While walking home , my phone rang" , "Walking" is dangling Participle . A correct form of the sentence would be " While i was walking home , my phone rang . Sir , I request you that i did not totally make out about the dangling participle , so give simple example so that i make out . Sir , tell me in details about that term and usage . Thanks sir .

Hello Sagir Mondal,

The problem with the example sentence you ask about is that the subject of the subordinate clause ('While walking home' -- it's not completely clear, but I suppose the subject is 'I') is not the same as the subject of the second clause ('my phone rang', subject = 'my phone'). The subjects must be the same in this kind of construction; if they are not, they are referred to as 'dangling participles'.

I'd suggest you take a look at a different Oxford Dictionary page that explains this in much more detail.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Aleya,

The time reference for participle clauses is always the same as the verb in the main clause and they can be used for any time reference, including future time. For example:

I will wait for you at the corner, wearing a red shirt and a black hat.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, She is going to bus stand with a purse held in her hand. Is this a right sentence using past participle 'Held' in it and Using past partciple with the preposition 'With' like in this sentense,what is this rule called ?

Hello SonuKumar,

Your sentence is not incorrect, though normally people would probably just say 'with a purse in her hand'. In your version of the sentence, 'held' is adjectival.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Good evening, how can I know when to use present participle, past participle ir the perfect participle? Are there any rules?

Hello Hugoecc,

The differences between present and past participles in participle clauses are explained on this page. It is primarily a question of whether the meaning needed is active (present participle) or passive (past participle).

If you have a particular example in mind then please post it and we will try to help you with it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, There's a sentence. "She passes by me wearing a beautiful dress" Now in this sentence why do we not use the past participle worn instead of present one, whereas The girl I'm talking about already has worn her dress completely the work is done even then why present participle and is there a way to make the same sentence using past participle ?

Hello SonuKumar,

As the information on the page says, present participles have an active meaning and past participles have a passive meaning. The girl is wearing the dress and so an active meaning is needed and a past participle would not be appropriate.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I'm a bit confused about using verb-ing after comma in a sentence. Basically, I'm not sure what kind of grammar it is and where I should use such structure. Below are two examples for your reference: 1) The engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology. 2) Teachers serve as inspiring role models for the students, living and embodying values they teach. As can be seen in the examples above, -ing form of verb is used after comma. Could you please give me some advice about this structure and let me know when I can have this in my writing. Best Regards, Pedram

Hello Pedram,

These are participle clauses. The first sentence, for example, is a version of something like 'The engineer identified the problem while using the latest technology'.

It'd be best to consult a resource specialising in punctuation (such as a style guide or writing reference, e.g. the OWL), but in general participle phrases end in a comma when they come first in a sentence, begin and end with a comma if they come in the middle of a sentence, and, when they are at the end of a sentence, come after a comma if they are separated from the word they modify -- see the page I linked to for some good examples.

Finally I just wanted to point out that participle clauses are much more common in formal writing. I suppose you know this already, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, which sentences of these are right ? "For the first time I have seen her with a holymark applying on her forehead" "For the first time I have seen her with a holymark applied on her forehead" "For the first-time I have seen her with a holymark on her forehead" According to with, with applying, with applied or with and with applied both right ?
Hi Mr.Kirk, I'm confused with participle phrases and gerund phrases. Eating too much fat,causes your arteries clog up. in here,how does first phrase work? I feel it as a subject.

Hello dlis,

That's correct -- the noun phrase 'eating too much fat' is the subject of the verb 'causes'. In general, we call an -ing form a gerund when it acts as a noun (though note that gerunds have can objects -- in your example, 'too much fat' is an object) and a participle when it acts as an adjective, a part of a verb or as part of a participle clause.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Which is the rule by which you are able to tell if "Challenging" refers to subject or object as in this case it refers to object plea, in my sentence above In the previous comment and generally How to know if a present participle refers to a subject or a object ?

Hello SonuKumar,

The participle follows the noun which it modifies. For example:

 

The lady waiting at the bus stop saw me. [the lady was waiting]

The lady saw me waiting at the bus stop. [I was waiting]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Is there any difference in using the conjunction 'While' or not in both sentences below ? "An aeroplane crashed while taking off" And "An aeroplane crashed taking off" ? And In this sentence below what form is participle "Challenging" in, in adjective form or is it just referring to the subject "Supreme court", that how it works ? "Supreme court will hear a plea today challenging centre's notification banning cattle trade for slaughter" What does Challenging refer to Subject 'Supreme court' or object a plea and How to Know simply what a present participle like that refers to subject or object in the sentence like this ?

Hello SonuKumar,

There is no difference between the examples with and without 'while'.

'Challenging...' describes 'plea' and has an adjectival function.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi When we reduce adverb clause to reduced form,which cojunction should be omitted and which of them are better to keep? Thankyou

Hello Azim,

There are many different possibilities. If you'd like to tell us how you think it should be with an example sentence, we'll be happy to help you with it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, There some sentense "Are you the one who will come at my home tomorrow ?" Could I change it like- "Are you the one coming at home tomorrow ?" And also I think I should use "Coming rather than Come" in this reduced clause sentence Should I not ? apart from it please take a look at sentences below. "I have seen all the episodes of a serial coming yet" I think coming yet rather than Come yet right ? and "He is the boy best known ever for his work" is a right sentence changed from this one-He is the boy who is best known ever for his work. "He is the one ever coming at my home" Sir could use "Yet" rather than "ever" and are these interchangeable in some conditions like "Coming yet and coming ever" please help understand ?

Hello SonuKumar,

Those are a lot of questions! Answering all of them would take a long time, as I'm afraid most of them are not grammatically correct. So I will answer the first one.

Yes, the reduced relative clause here should have an -ing form, not a baseform. So 'Are you the one who will come to my home tomorrow?' and 'Are you the one coming to my home tomorrow?' are both correct. Though note that we say 'go home', but 'come to my home'.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, There is sentence "Are you the person like that who needs to be reminded something again and again ?" and I think Its clause can't be reduced I don't know why but I feel little strange in making it like this- "Are you the person like that needing to be reminded something again and again ?" Could we make it like this or not and also where should we not reduce clause ? Please help understand...