English is my second language. I've been reading a book for 2 days and I faced with a misunderstanding.

The man in the wheelchair pushed himself away, leaving the card on the table.

Here is a question. Why did author use Present Continuous in the 2nd part of the sentence?

(Also , sorry for my English level, it's awful.)


3 Answers 3


For a start, the present continuous is not used in your example, which bring us to the explanation of a verb not having a tense.

That -ing verb gives the contrasting effect; in this case: the consequence of the previous action - so, it bears adverbial meaning : consequently, therefore, thus; and could be called "a complex sentence". Your sentence can be rephrased, but it will not have or establish the same syntactic construction.

Some adverbial clauses can be put into front position of a sentence. But they will not necessarily carry the same or, even, similar meaning.

for instance

Faced with a serious problem, I decided to walk away. (Here, the past participle of the verb: "faced" has the passive sense that also implies adverbial meaning - Because I was faced with ....... );

Now, if you say the following sentence:

I decided to walk away, faced with a serious problem.

This sentence absolutely means the same as the latter sentence. But this is often not possible with dependent -ing clauses.

As in your example:

The man in the wheelchair pushed himself away, [and therefore (he left) ] leaving the card on the table.

If the comma is removed, the meaning will not make much sense. In fact, it would indicate "how the man pushed himself away" and obviously modify the verb, which is not intended here, and reversing the position would specify the time adverbials : when, while.

It is the comma that makes the difference in the sentence. Also, this is a common contrasting construction. Constructions that can imply reasons, purposes, conditions, some time adverbials and so forth can easily be understood or determined for the independent clause they follow.

  • I think this answer could be improved by pointing out that this is not the present continuous. Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 21:54

This is an example of present participle. The name may traditionally be called present but it has nothing to do with either present or continuous. Better call it "-ing verb" form. It is a non finite use of verb. A non finite verb does not serve the action of the sentence and having "ing" even is tenseless. While the sentence around it may be past, present, or future tense, the non-finite verb itself is neutral.

There are three types of non-finite verbs: gerunds, participles, and infinitives.

A participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun, noun phrase, verb, or verb phrase, and then plays a role similar to an adjective or adverb and imbibe the tense of the main clause. In your example sentence it functions adverbially, the subject being understood to be the same as that of the main clause:


Looking at the plans, I gradually came to see where the problem lay.

The man in the wheelchair pushed himself away, leaving the card on the table.

A Present participle can also be used in tense conjugation where together with other helping verb/(s ) it becomes finite. But that's a separate issue.


That is not present continuous. There is no "be verb"

He is leaving the card on the table.

This is present continuous. There is a "be" verb and an "-ing" verb. "is leaving". (This sentence is strange, because "leave" doesn't naturally have a continuous meaning)

This phrase is a "participle phrase". It describes something. It describes the scene after the man pushed himself away.

I ate the cake, leaving the cherry.

I went home, thinking about Sally.

I injured my foot playing tennis.

Active participle phrases always use the present participle (even if the describe something in the past). Passive participle phrases always use the past participle.

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