I'm often confused between this two terms participle clause and participle phrase used in English grammar.I've read through some websites about them but got further confused.To be honest,I don't understand some other English grammatica terms such as adverbial clause,verbals etc even after reading through many websites.However,Now,As I'm learning about participle,I want to understand these terms.Do the following sentences contain participle clause:

1.Entering the room, he caught us sleeping.

2.Opening the envelope, I found two concert tickets.

If they don't contain participle clause why these http://www.grammarbank.com/participle-clauses.html http://www.grammaring.com/participle-clauses websites are describing them as participle clause?

could you please make me understand about both participle clause and participle phrase?


A clause is a part of sentence that contains a finite verb; a phrase is a part of sentence that does NOT contain a finite verb, but many sources just do not pay attention to this difference in the meaning and use either clause or phrase for depicting the same notion.

According to britishcouncil.org: participle clauses are a form of adverbial clause which enables us to say information in a more economical way. We can use participle clauses when the participle and the verb in the main clause have the same subject.

According to grammar.about.com: a participial phrase is a word group consisting of present/past participle plus any modifiers, objects, and complements.

Both of them talk about the same thing but just name it differently. That's why I'd recommend you not to pay attention to this difference in the meaning.

And here are some links from britishcouncil.org and grammar.about.com on adverbial clauses.

  • Hi Claire - I incorporated your extra links into your answer. Welcome to ELL! – ColleenV Oct 3 '16 at 23:09
  • No. There are non-finite clauses as well. (But a good answer could discuss how the term clause is used differently in different grammatical frameworks.) – user230 Oct 3 '16 at 23:21
  • @snailplane here is the article that talks about non-finite clauses and I think the examples there look just like participle phrase/clause (except the one with in order to...well in order to usually takes bare infinitive so it would be strange if there were a participle)..anyways, the problem is that different grammar books just cannot stick to using one term – Claire Wilson Oct 4 '16 at 8:51

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