Having received mixed or outright negative reactions when they were released, these movies were only appreciated in their later years.

Is there a rule that says adverbial subordinate clauses must connect to an independent clause (see the example below)? Can they modify the verb in a phrase? Traditional grammar resources fail to provide examples such as the one above (a perfect participle phrase).

The films received mixed or outright negative reactions when they were released.

  • People have later years. Not movies. For movies: years later. Also, I don't see any "attachment".
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 13:38
  • I think the point still holds (choice of words notwithstanding). By attachment, I mean that they are used in parallel. For example, 'The films received mixed or outright negative reactions when they were released.' There is undoubtedly a better way to phrase it, but I don't see the need to nitpick. If you were legitimately confused, I hope this has helped.
    – MJ Ada
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 13:46
  • 1
    Adverbial subordinate clauses such as the highlighted "fronted" text in your example don't really impose any restrictions on the tense of main clause they modify. So Having passed your driving test... could be followed by any of ...you were able to drive your own car last year, ...you can drive your own car now, ...you will be able to drive your own car next year. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 13:50
  • (also various more "exotic" verb forms in main clauses could occur in my example: ... you would have been able to insure your own car, you are sitting pretty as regards insurance premiums,...) Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 13:52
  • I think the focus of my question is being lost a bit here. The nature of time isn't what confuses me; it's the inclusion of an adverbial subordinate clause as part of a phrase. In this example, 'when they were released' modifies 'received'. The independent clause that the entire phrase modifies is entirely redundant—included to complete the example sentence.
    – MJ Ada
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


You are asking whether "when they were released", the adverbial clause, can attach to the gerund-participial clause "having received ... reactions", which is a subordinate clause, an adjunct modifying movies, the subject of the main clause.
Yes, it can, and your example is grammatical.

I agree with the comment that "in their later years" doesn't fit semantically with a movie, because movies don't have fixed lifetimes.

  • May I ask why you classify the adjunct as a subordinate clause? In various resources (and according to my own understanding), this would be classified as a phrase. It has no subject — although you seem to be implying that 'having' is a gerund — so I'm not sure how this fits the requirements of a clause. (I am not saying you're wrong, for clarity. I am just confused.)
    – MJ Ada
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:08
  • 1
    It has an implied subject. It would be clearer if the word order were changed: These movies, having received ... reviews, were only appreciated later. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:10
  • Interesting. This resource (thoughtco.com/what-is-a-participial-phrase-1691588) implies that the terms are used interchangeably, but 'phrase' appears more common. Either way, it is useful to know.
    – MJ Ada
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:17
  • This reference: tinyurl.com/3mnwkjrw refers to "gerund-participial clauses", and an example is parallel to yours: "having read the paper, I can't see why you care." Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:34
  • I should have referred to "when they were released" as an adverbial clause, not a phrase, in my answer, which I will correct. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 21:17

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