I'm wondering how to use those "(noun-y) -ing clauses" when they are at the end of the sentence. Most grammar references I've found on the internet only talk about their use as adverbials at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

1) Wanting more money, he accepted the offer.

But I've seen many times people put them at the end of sentences:

2) He issued an attack on her at the company, describing her as an amateurish programmer.

3) She ran all the way to the playground, her friends following.

In these last two examples above, the -ing clauses don't look like adverbials to me. They can be paraphrased as separate sentences. I feel like, because they are related, instead of writing two separate sentences, the writer combines them together.

Grammatically, what are those types of -ing clauses called? And when is it appropriate to use them?

  • Note that this question can and should be reopened if you clean up the first example and distinguish what you are asking from what is provided in the duplicate. Sep 15, 2014 at 17:28
  • @StoneyB : I'm sorry, it's a typo mistake.So, these are called supplement. Is there any rule when using them?
    – yellow210
    Sep 16, 2014 at 6:10

2 Answers 2


The -ing phrases are participle phrases.

They are allowed at the end of sentences, but you want to be careful that you don't accidentally make a misplaced modifier:

*"Steve stood and watched a man, running his hands through is hair." This sentence is not good because it is hard to tell if Steve running his hands through his hair, or if the man Steve watches is running his hand through his hair.

You can use participle phrases as long as it is very clear which noun they modify.

  • I'll agree that "following" is a participle that modifies "her friends". Does it make sense to characterize "her friends following" as an absolute phrase rather than a participial phrase? Dec 16, 2014 at 17:17
  • I think regarding "her friends following" as an absolute phrase makes sense. In Latin grammar absolute phrases are considered to contain participles. Is that how English absolute phrases are regarded? Dec 16, 2014 at 17:37
  • According to grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/absoluteterm.htm and my own intuition, participles are common but not necessary in an absolute phrase. By my intuition, modifiers are necessary, and participles or participial phrases work well to modify nouns. Dec 17, 2014 at 0:01

/describing her as an amateurish programmer/ is dangling. It comes from "And he describes her as ........" The first subject /he/ can be NOT related to the object of speaking /her/.

  • Are you sure it's not the attack which describes her as an amateurish programmer? To my eye, the direct object seems quite able to accept the participial phrase as a modifier. Dec 16, 2014 at 17:12
  • the /describing/ doesn't always appoint/modify /he/ Then, what about this one: He helped the old man, smiling at him ......... the object /the old man/ doesn't mean (always) the object /him/, right?
    – don magug
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:19
  • I believe that supports my point. The phrase "smiling at him" might modify "he" or it might modify "the old man". Given the comma, I'd say that it modifies "he". It has something to modify, so it isn't dangling. At worst, it's squinting. The phrase "describing her as an amateurish programmer" could modify "he", or it could modify "an attack". It has something to modify, so it's not dangling. I wouldn't even call it squinting, since the semantics of the sentence are the same no matter which it modifies. Dec 18, 2014 at 16:13
  • Yeah, I spent my time to learn about it last night :D and at last, i earn one side of structure from your expl. thanks. I would be more careful to analyze the other case.
    – don magug
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:23

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