Participle Clauses for intermediate learners

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

"Participle Clauses" in the English Grammar

What Are Participle Clauses?

Participle clauses are subordinate clauses that begin with a participle. These clauses do not have a specific tense and are therefore categorized as 'non-finite' clauses. In this lesson, we are going to learn more about them.

Participle Clauses: Types

In English, there are three different types of participle clauses:

In this lesson, we will discuss present participle and past participle clauses.

Present Participle Clauses

Present participle clauses are used in different contexts:

  • When two actions take place at the same time:

Talking to me, mom signaled dad to open the door.

As you can see, here two actions are taking place at the same time and we use a 'present participle clause' for one of them.

Looking straight in his eyes, I kept quiet.

  • When something is the reason for something else:

Being aware that she is alone, she decided to keep her distance from others.

Knowing that they are not coming back, the poor boy killed himself.

  • When one thing is the result of another:

People are flooding the streets, complaining about everything.

The water came up, drowning the whole village.

  • When we want to give more information on a subject:

Being tired and all, Jessie started the car.

Past Participle Clauses

Past participle clauses are used in the following contexts:

  • When we want to give a reason for something:

Stuck in this mad house, no wonder why Rick's gone insane.

Shocked by the incident, Sheila couldn't speak.

  • When we want to show a conditional situation:

Taken care of, these flowers will last an eternity.

Treated badly, Hannah will ignore you like you never existed.

  • When we want to give further information on the topic:

Scared to death, the cat could not move.

Hurt by her partner's words, Elio simply sat on the floor and stared at me.

  • When we want to shorten a passive clause:

Morty, filled with sheer excitement, talked to the professor.

Mom, being lost in her thought, didn't make any sound.

Participle Clauses: Negation

To negate a participle clause, we can simply add 'not' before it. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

Not taking care of her won't show your power.

Not startled by anything, Anna simply stared at me blankly.

Participle Clauses: Functions

Participle clauses can serve several grammatical functions in a sentence. Look at the list below:

Now, let us see some examples:

Talking to the old man, Maria suddenly fainted.

As an adverb

Eating cakes everyday is not something a doctor would recommend anyone.

As a noun

My sister, startled by what had just happened, screamed loudly.

As an adjective


Keep in mind that participle clauses are used when the subject of the subordinate clause is the same as that of the independent clause.


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Non-finite Clauses

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