Is there any difference in meaning between these two sentences?

  1. My car breaking down, I had to take a taxi to work.
  1. My car having broken down, I had to take a taxi to work.
  • 2
    The first one sounds very formal and old-fashioned. Sep 11, 2022 at 16:54
  • 2
    It's something you might write in a memoir; it's not at all colloquial English. Sep 11, 2022 at 20:03
  • @JohnLawler, Prof, what about the expression ‘’ As my car had broken down, I had to take a taxi to work" ? In colloquial English, compared with the absolute phrase, an adverbial clause is strongly preferred, right?
    – user421993
    Sep 11, 2022 at 23:35
  • 1
    Use since instead of as; that's bookish. Or you could just resort to two short sentences - My car broke down. I had to take a taxi to work. Anybody can put two and two together without needing a guiding word like since. Sep 12, 2022 at 14:47
  • @JohnLawler, Noted with thanks.
    – user421993
    Sep 12, 2022 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


The perfect aspect (almost always indicated by "to have" + past participle, as in sentence #2) implies an earlier time. Because your car presumably broke down before you had to take a taxi, sentence #2 is better. (If both events happened at the same time, then sentence #1 would be appropriate. That seems unlikely.)

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