When the athlete knew that he brok the record, he was delighted.

If I change this sentence into "participle clause",

Possible answers:

1.Knowing that the athlete broke the record, he was delighted.

2.Knowing that he broke the record, the athlete was delighted.

Which is suitable? Thanks in advance.

  • #2 is correct! Don't know enough about the technicalities to tell you why, though. May 8, 2017 at 14:51
  • 1
    #1 gives the impression that he is another person (not the athlete).
    – oerkelens
    May 8, 2017 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


#2 is correct for what you want to say, but both are grammatically correct. They just mean different things.

When you use a participle clause in this way, you delay revealing the subject until the end of the sentence. The subject of the participle is not necessarily the subject of the main sentence. Consider the following example:

Exploring the attic, Mary found her grandmother's old diary.

Exploring the attic, Mary's grandmother found her old diary.

As in any language, pronouns only make sense when you've already connected them to the related noun. When using participle clauses it's fine to use a pronoun as long as you understand the meaning is ambiguous until you connect it in the main sentence:

Reading her book while strolling through the park, the girl accidentally walked into the man who would change her life.

Since "her" is ambiguous, it could also refer to the author of the book:

Reading her book while strolling through the park, out of blue John accidentally walked into the writer.

This kind of thing isn't common, but it's possible.

With your two examples, #1 suggests the subject (he) is not "the athlete", while #2 implies that they are the same person.

  • Can I apply this rule for object? E.g Without putting salt in it, mother cooked the curry.
    – Aung Thu
    May 9, 2017 at 13:59
  • Yes, that works, although it would be an odd way to phrase the sentence. You could also say "Without adding salt, mother cooked the curry." You don't have to have a subject in the participle clause. It can be implied.
    – Andrew
    May 9, 2017 at 17:13

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