What are participle clauses?

Participle clauses are used in some tenses, but they also have another use – they can combine information into one sentence.

Participle clauses often express condition, reason, cause, result or time.

For example:

Jim walked past the old school. He got to the shop. > Walking past the old school, Jim got to the shop.

The section in bold is participle clause.

There are three types of participle clause:

Present participle Walking past the old school, Jim got to the shop.
Past participle Founded in 1912, the club has a long history.
Perfect participle After they had finished their homework, the boys went out to play.


1. The participle clause and the main sentence must have either a cause/effect relationship or show a sequential relationship (one thing happened before the other).

  • Participle clause with a cause/effect relationship: Having studied hard, he passed the exam.
  • Participle clause with a sequential relationship: Locking the door, John walked to his car.

2. Both the clause and the main sentence normally need to have the same subject

Driving home, Mary thought about what she would cook for dinner (Mary was both driving and thinking about dinner).

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