I met the using of "having cleaned" while I didn't meet this kind of using before and I would like to know what is the name of this structure in English grammar, in order to read and to get more information about it.

The full sentence is:

"So if you cannot reduce the patient's shivering for any reason, you can't get rid of any artefact despite having cleaned the skin, optimised your position, patient comfort, made sure your patient is as warm as they can be, but in circumstances it's not always possible to reduce all disturbances to a normal ECG.In that case, you could use to filter button."

  • It's a perfect participle Mar 29, 2017 at 5:48
  • It's also two very bad sentences; the first is an unintelligible sequence of phrases and clauses whose syntactic relationships are wholly incoherent, and the second is unidiomatic. Despite having cleaned the skin, however, is internally well-formed, so the question itself is answerable. Mar 29, 2017 at 7:00
  • It is a dreadful garbled sentence. Nevertheless despite having cleaned the skin can be analysed as a preposition phrase with an embedded gerund-participle clause functioning as a concessive adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Mar 29, 2017 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


Having cleaned may be called a gerund-participial perfect—the gerund or present-participle form of the perfect construction HAVE cleaned. The perfect construction may be conjugated with infinitive and gerund-participle forms of HAVE as well as with the finite forms (have, has, had) with which you are probably more familiar.

INFINITIVE:                     She wants him to have cleaned the skin by the time she returns.
GERUND-PARTICIPLE: Having cleaned the skin, you may proceed to applying the electrodes.

Traditional grammar distinguishes between gerund and present participle uses of the -ing form: the term gerund is used when the form acts as a noun and the term present participle is used when it acts as an adjective or as a component of the progressive construction. In your example, having cleaned the skin acts as the object of the preposition despite, so having cleaned is parsed as noun-like and traditional grammar calls this use a gerund perfect or something similar.

This distinction is of dubious value, since a) the adjectival or nominal quality of the -ing form often (perhaps usually) coexists with some degree of verbal quality, b) that adjectival or nominal quality is often ascribable only to the phrase or clause which the -ing form heads, not the -ing form in isolation, and c) there is no evident reason why progressive and uncontroversially clausal uses of the form should be categorized as adjectival participles rather than nominal gerunds.

Consequently, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language calls the -ing form a ‘gerund-participle’ in all its uses. It’s an awkward name, but it preserves some continuity with traditional terminology without conceding anything to traditional analysis.

  • Thank you for the answer. What is the function of such use, or what is difference between saying "Despite having cleaned the skin optimize etc" and "Despite (of) cleaning the skin optimize etc."? Mar 29, 2017 at 7:55
  • +1 I think this construction can also be used instead of a clause if we want to emphasize that an event takes place before the other one and both actions happened in the past: Having broken my leg I did not play any longer. (After I had broken my leg I did not play any longer). Mar 29, 2017 at 7:58
  • @UbiquitousStudent Having cleaned is explicitly perfective--"Even after you have cleaned the skin." Beyond that, I'm afraid that when you get outside Despite having cleaned the skin the sentence collapses into total incoherence. Mar 29, 2017 at 8:03
  • @UbiquitousStudent: Please check my answer below Mar 29, 2017 at 8:46
  • 1
    @TranLeNguyen cleaned is a 'past participle', required as a component of the perfect construction, but the head of the verb group, having, which determines the character of the clause it heads, is a gerund-participle. And in contemporary grammatical analysis clauses may also be the object of prepositions; we no longer adhere to the artificial distinction of prepositions and 'subordinating conjunctions'. Mar 29, 2017 at 10:02

Normally, "having cleaned" can be past participle or a gerund, but "having cleaned" in your sentence is the gerund

"despite" is the preposition. So, we must have gerund form after "despite"

Back to the question, why do we use "despite having cleaned", not "despite cleaning"?

The sentence using "despite" can divide into 2 parts:

  • Main clause
  • "despite" clause

For example:

Despite being poor, he learns very well.

"Despite" clause-------main clause

Both forms "despite having cleaned" and "despite cleaning" are correct but different situation.

  1. "despite + Gerund (V-ing)": express the action occurring at the same time as main clause. For example:

    • Despite being poor, he learns very well. (we can understand this sentence as following: He is poor. He learns very well.)

    • Despite eating a lot, she still felt hungry yesterday. (we can understand this sentence as following: she ate a lot. She still felt hungry yesterday.)

  2. "Despite + having + past participle": express the action occurred before the main clause. For example:

    • Despite having learned a lot, he cannot answer that question. (we can understand this sentence as following: He learned a lot. He cannot answer that question.)

    • Despite having not stolen the camera, she was still arrested yesterday. (we can understand this sentence as following: She had not stolen the camera. She was still arrested yesterday.)

For the passive voice, it still belongs to 2 parts above ("Despite + Gerund (V-ing)" and "Despite + having + past participle"). At this time, the formula is a little bit change:

"Despite + being + past participle": express the passive action occurring at the same time as main clause.

"Despite + having + been + past participle": express the passive action occurred before the main clause.

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