today i come across the sentence: "She has gone downstairs looking for her children".Is this a correct usage of the participle clause?

In my English book, the unit states that you can join 2 sentence together using the above structure EX: Seeing the police, the thief ran away. However, all example only include the joining of 2 simple past sentences and no other tenses were mentioned.

So is it okay to use other tenses for the structure or you must use it to describe 2 complete action in the past that happen simultaneously?

Much oblige.

1 Answer 1


Yes. Participle clauses are consistent with any tense in the matrix. (They can themselves be past, using a form like "having looked": that puts them in the past relative to the matrix clause, but says nothing about their absolute tense).

I find your example a bit awkward because of the present perfect in the main clause - I think it is because the participial clause is a bit literary, while a present perfect like that is most often found in everyday speech. But I would found it perfectly natural in a present-tense narrative, for example.

But the use of "looking for her children" is unexceptionable.

  • 1
    so would it be more acceptable to rephrase it like : She went downstairs looking for her children. or She goes downstairs looking for her children. Also i have heard of participle phrases used as cause and effect like Because Bran had nothing to do, he went home to Having nothing to do, Bran went home.Can you verify this ? And can you elaborate further on But the use of "looking for her children" is unexceptionable. i don't quite get the intention. Thaks
    – Jessi
    Nov 18, 2017 at 10:52
  • 1
    "Where, pray tell, is Sarah?"//"She's gone downstairs looking for her children." Versus: "She's gone downstairs to look for her children". Both are right, and I would assert quite common.
    – Lambie
    Nov 18, 2017 at 15:26
  • 2
    +1 for the grammatical explanation but I don't find "looking for her children" "a bit literary" in and of itself. The OP's sentence feels natural to me. Where's Mrs Jones? --She's gone downstairs, looking for her children; she wants to say goodbye to them before we leave for the matinee.
    – TimR
    Nov 18, 2017 at 15:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .