Session 2

Present and past participles can be used for more than making verb forms. In some situations they can be used without subjects and auxiliaries. Having read this, if you want to learn more, read the activities and try the quizzes. 

Sessions in this unit

Session 2 score

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    Activity 2
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    Activity 3

Activity 1

Present participle clauses

A business trip

Rob is late for a meeting. Read what happens to him and answer this question:

Why did he go back to his flat?

"Rushing to get to an interview the other day, I forgot to tie my shoe laces properly. I headed out of my flat but not looking where I was going I tripped and cut my head on the stairs.

Realising I wasn't going to get to the interview on time I called to rearrange the appointment for later that day. After making the call, I went back to my flat and started to clean myself up.

I was planning to make the rearranged interview but looking in the mirror I saw that the cut on my head was really quite bad.

Phoning my interviewee back, I told her that I wouldn't be able to make it after all. After hanging up I went straight to the hospital to get my head stitched."

Read the text and complete the activity

Present participle clauses

Poor Rob! Did you get the answer as to why he went back to his flat?

He went back to his flat to clean himself up after cutting his head tripping down the stairs.

There were lots of examples of the present participle (verb + ing) in that piece by Rob. Some of them were used in past continuous verb forms. For example:

...where I was going ... ,  I was planning to ...

There were quite a few other examples where the present participle was used. In these cases though it was used without a subject pronoun or an auxiliary.

  • Rushing to get to an interview, ...
  • not looking where I was going ...
  • Realising I wasn't going to get to the interview in time ...
  • but looking in the mirror ...
  • Phoning my interviewee back, ...
  • After hanging up ...

In each example the present participle is used in a sentence where there are two clauses. In both clauses the grammatical subject is the same. In certain situations this means that we can avoid repeating the subject and we can also leave out the auxiliary. We can use a comma after the participle clause, but it is not necessary. 

Here are some of the situations when we can do this.

  • When one action leads to or is the reason for another:

    Rushing
    to get to an interview the other day, I forgot to tie my shoe laces properly.
    Why did Rob forget to tie his shoes laces properly? Because he was rushing to get to an interview.

    ... but not looking where I was going I tripped ...
    Why did he trip? Because he wasn't looking where he was going.

 

  • When two actions happen at the same time or one action happens while another is happening

    ... but looking in the mirror I saw that the cut on my head was really quite bad.
    When did he see that the cut was bad? When he was looking in the mirror.

    Phoning my interviewee back, I told her that I wouldn't be able to make it after all.
    When did he tell the interviewee he couldn't make it? When he was phoning her.

 

  • When one action happens after another one

    After making the call, I went back to my flat and started to clean myself up.
    When did he go back to his flat? After he had made the call.

    After hanging up I went straight to the hospital ...
    When did he go to the hospital? After he had hung up.

    Note that in these cases the present particple is preceded by after.

To do

After reading this, do you think you could make present particple sentences? Try the quiz to find out. Make one sentence from the two sentences given below.

1: He was sitting on the sofa. He did a crossword.

2: We paid for the meal. We left the restaurant.

3: He was exhausted. He fell asleep on the bus.

4: He was watching a play. He fell asleep.

5: We checked in. We unpacked and went to get something to eat.

Present participle clauses

5 Questions

Drag and drop the words in the correct order to make one sentence from the two sentences above.

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Next

After finishing this page, you'll be able to read about past participle clauses in the next activity.

Session Grammar

  • Present participle clauses

    We can use a present participle in a clause by itself without a subject or auxiliary: 

    • When one action leads to or is the reason for another:

    Rushing to get to an interview the other day, I forgot to tie my shoe laces properly.
    ... but not looking where I was going I tripped ...

    • When two actions happen at the same time or one action happens while another is happening:

    ... but looking in the mirror I saw that the cut on my head was really quite bad.
    Phoning my interviewee back, I told her that I wouldn't be able to make it after all.

    • When one action happens after another one:

    After making the call, I went back to my flat and started to clean myself up
    After hanging up I went straight to the hospital ...

Session Vocabulary