Participle Clauses

To get to know participle clauses, first of all, you have to be familiar with the concept of participles and clauses separately.

intermediate
"Participle Clauses" in the English Grammar

What Is a Participle Clause?

A participle clause is a type of dependent clause that uses a participle to modify a noun or pronoun in a sentence. It is a non-finite clause, meaning that it does not have a specific tense or subject. Participle clauses often act as adjectives in a sentence, providing additional information about the noun or pronoun they modify. Participle clauses can also be used to shorten a sentence by replacing a longer clause.

Participle Clauses: Types

There are different types of participles and accordingly, different types of participle clauses in English which include:

Present Participle Clauses

Present participle clauses are used to:

  • show that two actions are taking place simultaneously

Holding the cookbook in her left hand, she stirred the soup in the pot with her right hand.

Shaking angrily, she left the room.

  • show that an action is the result of the other action

The volcano erupted, destroying the village.

  • indicate that an action is the reason of the other action

Knowing what she needed the most at that time, he bought her a cellphone.

  • provide additional information about the subject of the main clause

Coming soon in all theaters nationwide, the new Tom Hanks movie is the new box office hit.

using a participle clause in a sentence

Past Participle Clauses

Past participle clauses are used in the following contexts:

  1. to shorten a passive clause

Alan, driven by madness, started spying on his wife.

  • to show condition similar to an if condition

Looked after carefully, it would stay alive.

  • to give the reason for an action

Devastated by the news, she called the hospital.

  • to add extra information about the subject of the main clause

Filled with jealousy, she broke off their engagement.

Perfect Participle Clauses

'Perfect participle' clauses are used to indicate an action that was completed before the action in the main clause. 'Perfect participles' can be used to form either active or passive sentences.

Having gotten arrested, he shouted he was innocent.

Having finished their homework, they walked downstairs to go to the restaurant.

Having been made with chocolate, the cake made me sick.

Participle Clauses: Functions

A participle clause can function as an adjective, an adverb, or a noun.

Participle Clauses Functioning as Adjectives

A participle clause can often function as an adjective modifying a noun or a pronoun. When it functions as an adjective, the participle clause usually directly follows the noun. For example:

Marcus, excited by the news, rushed out of the room.

Three old men sitting on a bench in the park discussed the current situation.

Participle Clauses Functioning as Adverbs

Participle clauses can also function as adverbs giving information about the time, reasons, results, conditions, etc. of the events described in the sentence.

Seeing me in that state, he got so sad.

Participle Clauses Functioning as Nouns

Only present participle clauses can function as a noun, for example, as the subject of a sentence:

Eating in this restaurant is very expensive.

When to Use Participle Clauses?

A 'participle clause' is used when the subjects of the participle and the verb are the same. Here's an example:

Talking about the issues, I dropped the glass.

Having warned her, she knew Hanna would get in trouble.

The Tense in Participle Clauses

These types of clauses do not have a specific tense. The tense in the main clause would decide the tense of the participle clause.
It is very important to remember that participle verbs do not change their form to show tense and they just mimic the tense of the main clause.

Talking to my therapist, I relaxed completely.

Talking to my therapist, I relax completely.

Talking to my therapist, I will relax completely. (When I talk - future time clause)

Tip!

Participle clauses are common in written English, especially in literary, academic, or journalistic style, because they allow the writer to include information without making long or complicated sentences.

Participle Clauses: Negation

To make the participles negative, all we have to do is to add the word 'not' before the participles. check out the examples:

Not having slept for eighteen hours, he felt sick.

Not ordering anything, she left the table.

Not feeling well, I entered the party.

Participle Clauses with Prepositions and Conjunctions

Prepositions such as 'before', 'after', 'instead of', 'on', 'since', 'when', 'while', and 'in spite of' are commonly used with participles (especially present participles) to further emphasize or clarify the order, time, cause, and effect of the event. Pay attention to the examples:

Before giving the speech, she reviewed the text.

Since coming to China, I haven't seen my family.

Without knowing it, I hurt his feelings.

Review

Participle clauses begin with a participle. They are used to shorten a long structure or sentence. Remember participle clauses are non-finite. Participle clauses are used to express:

  • results
  • reasons
  • same ideas
  • conditional

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