Participle constructions instead of relative clauses
What are participles and how can they be used?
There are two different participle forms in English. Here’s how they are formed:
- the present participle: it is formed by adding “-ing” to the end of the verb (e.g. talking, listening, writing)
- the past participle: it is formed by adding “-ed” to the end of the verb, it is the “3rd verb form” of any verb (e.g. talked, listened, written)
How are they used?
Both participles are part of various [verschieden] other grammar constructions, e.g.
- the present participle
- is part of the progressive form (I am walking)
- can be used to make an (active) adjective from a verb (the winning team)
- can be used as a gerund (Walking is good for you)
- the past participle
- is part of the perfect verb forms – present perfect and past perfect (I have walked, I had walked)
- can be used to make a (passive) adjective from a verb (the defeated team)
On this page, you can learn another common [verbreitet] use of participles: They can be used to replace [ersetzen] relative clauses.
Participles to replace relative clauses
Speakers of English often use participle constructions instead of relative clauses. Compare the following constructions. Both of them have the same meaning.
|#||relative clause construction||participle construction|
|1||One morning I saw a man who walked along the river.||One morning I saw a man walking along the river.|
|2||The person who was walking next to me looked really tired.||The pupil walking next to me looked really tired.|
|3||We visited the city which was mentioned in our travel guide.||We visited the city mentioned in our travel guide.|
- As you can see, the participle construction on the right replaces [ersetzen] the relative clause construction on the left. The meaning of both constructions is the same. Participle constructions are especially common in written English. They sound more formal [förmlich] than relative clauses.
- The present participle has an active meaning (walking) and the past participle has a passive meaning (mentioned).
- The present participle can replace a simple form or a progressive form (see examples 1 + 2).
- In German, you usually translate a participle construction with a relative clause because the German language doesn’t have such a construction.