Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I'm going to talk about participle clauses.
Let's get started.
Okay. I want to begin this lesson with this question…
What is a participle clause?
I want to explain what these things are. So, a participle clause is a clause that comes at the beginning of a sentence. So, these are, like kind of short groups of words, small groups of words that come at the beginning of our main point, our main clause.
We can use present participle, so present participle is like the -ING form of a verb like walking, talking, singing, dancing, and so on. Or, we can use past participle verb forms too. So past participle, it depends on the verb, but for example, "gone" or "eaten," those are past participle verb forms.
So, when we make a participle clause, we need to use either present participle (-ING) or past participle verb forms in our participle clause.
Another very important point about participle clauses is that participle clauses must have the same subject as the main clause of the sentence. So, when we see participle clauses, the short clause at the beginning of the sentence, usually a short clause, and then there's a main clause, so like the main part of your sentence, this part and this part must have the same subject.
So, let's look at two examples that use participle clauses.
"Trembling with anger, Sara reached for her mobile phone."
Here, my participle clause is in blue, so trembling means like shaking, shaking, but we use trembling to mean, like very tiny shaking. So, "trembling with anger," this is my participle clause. In this sentence, I'm using present participle. As I've said, present participle is the -ING form, "trembling," trembling.
"Trembling with anger, Sara reached for her mobile phone."
So here, "trembling with anger" and "Sara reached for her mobile phone" have the same subject. The subject is "Sara." I've marked the subject in red. So, "participle clause" is in blue, "subject" is in red here.
Same thing with the next example sentence:
"Defeated, I returned home."
Defeated, I returned home.
This sentence uses "defeated. It's just one word, as my participle clause, actually. Defeated, this is the past participle form of a verb. Here is a past participle example. To defeat, the participle form is defeated. Defeated means...it can mean in this case, emotionally defeated or, for example, defeated in, like sports, like my team was defeated or my team has been defeated.
So, "Defeated, I returned home."
So there was something maybe challenging about the speaker's day. The subject is I, so I returned home. This is the subject "I" of this part of the sentence and "I" is the subject here too. Who was defeated? I was defeated, so I felt defeated. In this case, defeated refers to emotions, like I was defeated by something. I had a bad day, maybe or I lost something important.
So, a key point here is that "the subjects must match."
These have the same subject. Native speakers often run into problems with this when writing. So I want to show an incorrect example, so that you can hopefully avoid the same issue in your writing. Let's take a look.
This incorrect example is:
"Trembling with anger, Sara's phone rang and she reached to pick it up."
So the problem here is, as I said, the parts of the sentence, the parts of the statement do not have the same subject, "trembling with anger." So, think about it, who is trembling with anger? Who was trembling with anger? "Sara." The subject of this part is Sara. Sara is trembling with anger or Sara was trembling with anger. Here, however, Sara's phone rang. The subject here is Sara's phone, so Sara's phone is the subject here. The subject of this participle clause is Sara. These two do not match, so this is incorrect.
So please keep in mind, the subjects of the clauses do not match makes it an incorrect sentence and a phone in this case cannot tremble with anger. It's an object, so this is a pretty good indicator, a pretty good way to tell that this is not quite right.
So keep an eye out for things like this. This is pretty common in writing, in particular. If you say it in speech, most people understand and we often make mistakes in speech too. But in your writing, please watch for this. So this is what a participle clause is and we make it in these two ways with the present participle and the past participle.
I want to talk now about why we use participle clauses. So why use a participle clause?
One, participle clauses save us time when storytelling.
So they're very short like this one here, for example. This is one word. It gives us some information about the subject, so we don't have to use two sentences here. So a participle clause can save us time when storytelling.
They also have a rhythm that sounds pleasing, sometimes.
So, as I said, especially in writing, we kind of want to create maybe a feel for our sentence or a feel for our story. So using a participle clause can give our sentence a little bit of a rhythm like a certain kind of way we want to tell our story.
So, to show some examples of these, I want to compare three sentences. These sentences are all correct, they share the same information, roughly, but they have a few different ways of sharing that information. The storytelling is a little bit different.
First: "Sara was trembling with anger. She reached for her mobile phone."
"Sara trembled with anger and reached for her mobile phone.
"Trembling with anger, Sara reached for her mobile phone."
So, they have roughly the same information here. Let's look at the differences in these sentences though.
The first sentence:
"Sara was trembling with anger (period). She reached for her mobile phone."
So here, we see past, there's a past example and we see past progressive here, "Sara was trembling with anger." So that means this is in the past, something, this is finished, but we're using progressive, which kind of shows like it gives us the feeling that we're watching something that happened in the past or we're experiencing something that happened in the past.
"Sara was trembling with anger."
"She reached for her mobile phone."
So the next action, she reached for her mobile phone. So here, we have this break in our sentence.
"Sara was trembling with anger. She reached for her mobile phone."
So that gives us information, yes, but there is this stop in the sentence. So this affects the rhythm of the sentence. So, depending on your personal preference or how you want your sentence or your story to feel, you might choose a sentence like this.
The second example:
"Sara trembled with anger and reached for her mobile phone."
So here, we're using simple past tense, "Sara trembled with anger and reached for her mobile phone." In this sentence, there's no stop, there's no period. We have two past tense verbs, simple past tense verbs and we have linked them with "and."
So "Sara trembled with anger and reached for her mobile phone."
We've used past tense. Using simple past tense kind of makes your story sound a little bit like a simple report like it's finished, it's done, this happened. It's kind of a reporting feeling. So there's no stop here, so it shows that the actions maybe happened more fluidly. So instead of this one, "Sara was trembling with anger. She reached for her mobile phone" which has this pause, this one does not have the pause. It shares the same thing, it feels a little bit like a report though.
Finally, going back to our original example sentence:
"Trembling with anger, Sara reached for her mobile phone."
So here, we're using present participle, "(Trembling)…, Sara reached for her mobile phone." This sentence shows us that two are happening together and because we've saved space here by sharing the subject, it feels even, like more efficient. So, using this makes us feel like we're experiencing the story now. So yes, this is past tense here, but using this progressive as well or using the present participle shows that something is happening now, so we can imagine experiencing it in that moment.
So, as I said, all of these are correct. Each sentence here is correct. You can use whichever you prefer, but these participle clauses are used to save time, one, and also just for storytelling purposes.
Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!