How To Teach Participle Clauses

This is more advanced knowledge for your higher level students. Great for making writing more formal and easy to learn if they already have a good grip of relative clauses. Perhaps see my previous guide on these first here! How To Teach Relative Clauses

Why Use Them?

  • They give more information about the noun.
  • They eliminate the need for the relative pronoun, useful if students have trouble remembering which one to use.
  • Avoid repetition of relative pronouns.

Present Participle

This is formed by using the present participle (-ing form on the verb) and can be used in the same way as an active relative clause. It can be used for all present active verbs and not only for continuous ones. They have an active meaning.

The light swinging from the ceiling – The light which swings from the ceiling.

The chef cooking in the kitchen – The chef that is cooking in the kitchen.

A castle sitting on the mountainside – A castle which sits on the mountainside.

Perfect Participles

Using this emphasizes that the first action was completed before the second action started. It is a form of the present participle.

Having enumerated the problems, he started talking about solutions.

It is common for students, and even natives, to put a preposition before the participle, but this is incorrect. It is not necessary to put anything before the verb.

After having enumerated the problems, he started talking about solutions.

Past Participle

This is formed by the past participle (third form of the verb) and is used in place of the simple passive relative clause. These have a passive meaning.

The note given to me by Sarah – The note which was given to me by Sarah.

The book written by Charles Dickens – The book which was written by Charles Dickens.

The artwork done by my class – The artwork which was done by my class.

Remember –

It’s generally better to use the regular relative clause instead of the participle if it’s one particular action that is not repeated.

The man putting the coffee on the table yesterday

The man who put the coffee on the table.

Sometimes the participle clause can be confusing or even funny if the subject is not clear.

Having run 10km, my shirt was wet and clinging to my back. (Who ran the 10km? Me or my shirt?!)






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