Participle Clauses: get to know their meaning and use.

Today I will teach you another English grammatical form: the participle clauses or also known as participle sentences. Are they useful? More than you think, and you will discover how useful they are as we advance in this post.  

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First of all: What is a clause? 

A «clause» is a grammatical structure that forms when an object and a subject are mixed. It can be a sentence (because both factors are present in one), but it can also be a part of a fragment of a sentence. 

For example: 

 If I go

This is a <<clause>> because it contains the elements of a sentence, but it is not a complete one, rather than a part of a conditional sentence. 


This being said…



Let’s continue with the meaning of «participle clauses»

Participles” are words formed from verbs that can be used as adjectives when they are given quality or the qualification for the subject. 

These phrases or «clauses« are used to give more information (condition, reason, result, time) about the name of any specific subject, and they are also when the participle and the verb do not have the same subject.  


In English, there are 3 types of participles, and I will explain each one of them. 

1. Present participle clauses:

The sentences of present participle are formed when the suffix or termination ( – ing) is added to a verb in the infinitive form. They are used in the following cases:

As a continuous form in the verbal times, used to express when the developed action continues. 


  • As a continuous form in the verbal times, used to express when the developed action continues. 


– I am waiting for them.

 – They were swimming very quickly.

  • As an adjective, to qualify or to give a qualification of the subject. 


It is an interesting book.

  • After verbs that indicate perception, such as feel, find, hear, listen to, see, smell, watch.


I watched them finding you.

  • After the use of the verbs go, come, and when they are used to describe an activity (go dancing/walking/swimming…) 


She always goes* shopping in the mall 

  • To abbreviate a subordinate sentence that shares the subject in the main sentence. 


The sheep were just standing there wagging their tails. 

2. Past participle clauses

The past participle sentences are formed when we add the termination (-ed) to the regular verb in the infinitive form.

For the regular verbs that end with (e), you just add a (d).

For example: 

Love – loved.

  • If the verb ends with a consonant, vowel, consonant structure, you have to duplicate the final consonant and add the particle (ed). 


Admit – Admitted.

Travel – Travelled.

  • When the verbs end with a (y), you can substitute this consonant for the suffix (ied). 


Try – Tried.

  • When the verbs are irregular, the participle clausesare a bit more complex to build, because none of the mentioned rules apply to them. You simply have to memorize them.


Take – taken.

The use of the past participle clauses that we are learning in this post is used in the following manner: 

  1. To replace the passive voice in a sentence. 


The people were shocked by the explosion and ran for shelter

Shocked by the explosion, the people ran for shelter.


3. Perfect participle clauses:


We use the perfect participle clauses sentences to define well that action occurs before another.

It can be used in sentences with active and passive voice in the following manner:

  • In active voice, we use these sentences to emphasize that an action has ended before another one begins.

We can build them with the following structure:

(Having)  + Past participle.


Having seen the film before, I didn’t want to go to the cinema


  • In passive voice, we use them to refer to actions that are not consecutive.


(Having been) + Past Participle.


Having been left on the meadow by the farmer, the sheep ran around all day.

When you practice your English and can maintain prolonged conversations, you will probably have to use “Participle Clauses» in any of their uses. To dominate them, you just have to practice them. Keep reading and using these rules and if you have any doubts, or wish to receive additional information, you can contact us.

And for the last part of this post, we have a really useful infography that can help you to identify the participle clauses and how you can use them.

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