Taken from an IELTS exam prep site

Why is beginning used in the following sentence? And is it a relative clause?:

It is clear that there are five stages in the production of cement, beginning with the input of raw materials and ending with bags of the finished product

  • 2
    The input of raw materials is the first of those five stages. – Kate Bunting Sep 27 '20 at 10:05
  • No: it's not a relative clause, but a gerund-participial clause in supplementary adjunct function. – BillJ Sep 27 '20 at 14:23
  • I believe it is not any sort of thing with "gerund" in its description - a gerund is noun. Here is a question on EL&U that might help: english.stackexchange.com/q/324765 – Justin Stafford Oct 1 '20 at 21:28
  • Also, my guess is that this question is more suited to English Language and Usage, and not ELL. Very technical stuff, to me. I understand my language pretty well, but I know nothing about this. – Justin Stafford Oct 1 '20 at 21:31

"Beginning" in this example is not a gerund, but a participle.

This sentence is an example of how a participle phrase (in this case, how two participle phrases connected with "and") can be used as an adverb in a sentence.

More precisely, it is an example of using a dangling modifier (dangling participle is just a special case of dangling modifier) in a sentence as an adverb modifying the sentence in general. In most of cases dangling modifiers are considered to be mistakes, but there are exceptions, such as in your example.

There is a mentioning of it in the wikipedia article about participles.

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