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Participle clauses

Do you know how to start a clause with a present participle (e.g. seeing) or past participle (e.g. seen)?

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, result, reason or time. For example:


CONDITION (with a similar meaning to 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.


RESULT (with a similar meaning to so or therefore):

The bomb exploded, destroying the building.

Compare: The bomb exploded so the building was destroyed.


REASON (with a similar meaning to because or since):

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 (with a similar meaning to 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.

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Hi Kirk,

Thanks for your quick response, and I look forward to your revised section on participle clauses.

As a quick addendum, I really must take this opportunity to thank you and the other staff members who respond to readers' questions on grammar usage. Yours is a wonderful resource for teachers and students alike.



Hi Tim

Glad to be of help, and thanks for your kind words!

Best wishes


The LearnEnglish Team

If I have such crucial info using which one can make lots of money; why he would share this info with others.

In the above sentence, is the word "using" used as the preposition or gerund, please clarify.

Hello SUCHIT35,

'Using' here is a participle, not a preposition or a gerund. However, the sentence is not correctly constructed in several areas and would need to be rewritten:

If I have such crucial info, with which one can make lots of money, why would I share this info with others?


We try to answer questions posted as quickly as we are able, though we are a small team here at LearnEnglish. Please do not post the same question multiple times as it only slows down the process.



The LearnEnglish Team


please help

1. What is the difference between "Compound Noun(gerund+noun)" vs any expression that uses participle as adjective(present participle +noun), are these two different things?
for example working professional, walking stick etc. what are these, Gerund or participle+noun?
2. Subject complement- Gerund vs Participle/Participle clause
How to know difference btn the two.
Eg. The book is boring to read
is this an Example of subject compliment ie a type of gerund or is it a participle/Participle clause? what is the difference between the two?
Thanks you

hi, can someone please answer these.

Hello John Mccan

Re: 1, I'd say that 'walking' in 'a walking stick' is a gerund, i.e. 'walking stick' is a compound noun or noun + noun construction where the first noun has an adjectival function. I suppose you could also argue that 'walking' is an adjective, but 'walking stick' is such a common collocation that I see it more as a noun with an adjectival function.

Re: 2, 'boring' is an adjective. There are many adjectives that can be followed by infinitives -- please see the Adjectives with to-infinitives section on our Infinitives page.

Please note that we respond to user comments as we can and at our own discretion. If a comment of yours goes unanswered for more than a week, it could be that we've missed it and you are welcome to ask us about it. Otherwise, please just be patient.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk

Thankyou for replying

1. Can you please give me some examples where use of participle with noun is not a compound noun.

2. How to know difference in subject compliment vs participle phrase

3. Preposition is either followed by a gerund or by a noun, but if we have a word which can act as a noun as well as like a verb eg. work, reply etc.. should if i say "thank you for replying(verb ie. gerund)" or "thank you for reply (noun)", i know replying is definitely correct but what about thank you for reply? is this grammatically correct as well.


Hello John Mccan

Re: 3, you could say 'thank you for your reply', but just 'thank you for reply' is not grammatically correct -- some kind of determiner is needed, and a possessive is the most commonly used one here.

Re: 2, please have a look at the explanation of subject complements in the Cambridge Dictionary. A subject complement follows a linking verb and is grammatically necessary in a sentence. A participle phrase gives additional information.

Re: 1, I'm sorry, nothing comes to mind. We're happy to help you with language that you encounter or give examples of common grammar, but I'm afraid we don't have the time to provide tutorials or search for examples of more unusual grammar.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I am confused with this adverb clause. I saw this as an example of an adverb clause. But it does not start with a.conjuntion.
Please confirm whether it is an adverb clause and the reason.
Jeff stared at the animal with his widely opened eyes