Perfect participle phrase in detail

In this post, we learn what a perfect participle phrase is and how to use it in a sentence correctly.

What is a Perfect Participle phrase?

A perfect participle phrase refers to an action that occurred before the action in the main clause. It identifies the subject of the main clause and acts as the reason why the main clause took place. The noun or the pronoun (subject) the perfect participle phrase identifies is either the subject of the perfect participle phrase or the object of its main verb.

Examples:

Having finished the work on time, Jon went out for a walk.

Having finished the work on time is the perfect participle phrase here that’s identifying the subject ‘Jon’ and working as the reason why Jon went out on a walk. Both these actions (finishing the work and going out for a walk) happened in the past. Notice that the action in the perfect participle phrase happened first and is the reason why the second action took place.

Also, note that the doer (subject) of the main clause (Jon) is also the subject of the perfect participle phrase. It’s Jon who finished the work and went out for a walk.

Instead of using the perfect participle phrase, we can use a subordinating clause or an adverb phrase to render the same meaning.

Alternatives:

  • After Jon finished the work on time, he went out for a walk. (subordinate clause)
  • Jon went out for a walk after he finished the work on time. (subordinate clause)
  • After finishing the work on time, Jon went out for a walk. (adverb phrase)
  • Jon went out for a walk after finishing the work on time. (adverb phrase)

Having been accused of the thievery, Max left the company.

Having been accused of the thievery is the perfect participle phrase that’s identifying the subject ‘Max’ and telling us the reason why Max left the company. Note that the subject of the main clause ‘Max’ is not the subject of this phrase; it is actually the object of the verb ‘accuse’. Max was accused by someone; he didn’t accuse himself. The perfect participle phrase is in the passive voice: the writer wants to focus on the object of the verb ‘accuse’, not its subject.

Alternatives:

  • After his manager accused him of the thievery, Max left the company.
  • Because his manager accused him of the thievery, Max left the company.

We can shift the position of the clauses: we can place the main clause before the subordinate clause.

  • Max left the company as his manager accused him of the theivery.

Perfect participle phrases can be used in both the active voice and the passive voice. Let’s understand both situations separately.

Perfect participle phrase explanation and examples
Perfect participle phrase explanation and examples

Perfect participle phrase (active voice)

Perfect participle phrases are formed in the active voice when the doer of the main clause (subject) is the doer of the perfect participle phrase too.

Structure: Having + past participle (V3) + object/modifier (optional) + Main clause

Examples:

  • Having worked for the entire day, she was tired.
  • Having heard the news of his accident, we decided to take the day off and see him.
  • Having seen the horror movie alone, she could not sleep.
  • Having paid the fine, I got my licence back.
  • Having eaten so much already, he refused to come to the party and have dinner with us.
  • He was arrested last night from his farm house, having killed one of his teammates.
  • My friend Alex decided to retire and spend his remaining life in his village, having achieved everything he wanted.

A perfect participle phrase generally appears at the beginning of a sentence, but it can also come at the end of the sentence. It is offset by a comma when it comes after the main clause (at the end). Notice in the last two sentences, the perfect participle phrase is offset using a comma and comes after the main clause.

Perfect participle phrase (passive voice)

Perfect participle phrases are formed in the passive voice when the subject of the main clause is the object of the verb in the perfect participle phrase.

Structure: Having + been + past participle (V3) + object/modifier (optional) + Main clause

Examples

  • Having been given the day off, we decided the explore all the famous places in the city.
  • Having been selected for the trip to london, I was ecstatic and thanked god for the opportunity.
  • Having been bullied multiple times, he decided to learn self-defence.
  • Having been kept in the fridge, the pizza got cold and soggy.
  • She, having been praised for her work, felt happy and got everyone a chocolate.
  • We called some of our friends to let us spend the night at their place, having been forced to vacant the flat.
  • Having been advised to work on my body, I bought some gym equipments and started working out on my terrace.

Perfect participle phrase (negative)

We insert the word ‘not’ before the present participle ‘having’ to form a negative perfect participle phrase.

Examples:

  • Not having studied well, we failed the exams.
  • Not having been respected for his work, Jolie left the company and started his own business.
  • Not having watched the movie before, I went out to see the movie with my friends.

Position of a perfect participle phrase

A perfect participle phrase can come at the following places in a sentence:

  1. Before the main clause
  2. Right after the subject of the main clause
  3. After the main clause

Examples:

  • Having hit 1 million subscribers, Ashish threw a huge party and celebrated it with his family and friends.
  • Ashish, having hit 1 million subscribers, threw a huge party and celebrated it with his family and friends.
  • Ashish threw a huge party and celebrated it with his family and friends, having hit 1 million subscribers.

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