After he had dried his face, and not knowing what else to do, dried it again, the boy turned around, wondering what next.

In the above sentence why do the writer use gerund (knowing and wondering) is used instead of (known and wondered)?

  • 1
    You may understand knowing and wondering as active participles and known and wondered as passive participles. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 11:43
  • @StoneyB,how do we come to know that when to use active participles and when to use passive? Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 11:53
  • Who is performing the action? In this case it is the boy who knows and wonders, so you use the active participle. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


The present participle (gerund) can be used instead of a phrase starting with as, since, or because. In this usage the participial phrase explains the cause or reason for an action. It is because he didn't know what else to do that he dried his face again.

Other examples:

  • Feeling hungry, he went into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
  • Being poor, he didn't spend much on clothes.
  • Knowing that his mother was coming, he cleaned the flat.
  • He whispered, thinking his brother was still asleep.

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