How to use participle clauses correctly

WRONG
This opinion was drawn up on the basis of the sent to us by email or fax documents.

The accident was caused by an animal running in front of the car from a neighbouring the road field.

RIGHT
This opinion was drawn up on the basis of the documents sent to us by email or fax.

The accident was caused by an animal running in front of the car from a field neighbouring the road.

In the above sentences sent to us by email or fax and neighbouring the road are participle clauses. Participle clauses contain either a past participle (e.g. sent, i.e. the ‘third form’) or a present participle (e.g. neighbouring, i.e. the ‘-ing form’). There are various types of participle clause and they have various uses, but the type I am referring to here adds information to a noun or noun phrase (i.e. documents and field in the above examples).

As you see in the above examples, in English we put the participle clause AFTER the noun it describes, NEVER before, as you can do in, for example, Slavic languages.

This is a very common mistake, and one that makes your writing look very foreign to a native speaker. It also can make your writing very difficult to understand.

More examples (the noun or noun phrase which the participle clause describes is in bold):

WRONG
The Report is an audit of selected by the Company twenty-one (21) leases.

RIGHT
The Report is an audit of twenty-one (21) leases selected by the Company.

WRONG
Moreover, both the life and non-life Directives (2002/83/EC and 92/49/EEC) stipulate that the mentioned in your e-mail situation is possible.

RIGHT
Moreover, both the life and non-life Directives (2002/83/EC and 92/49/EEC) stipulate that the situation mentioned in your e-mail is possible.

WRONG
The application can be made by anyone who fulfils the legal requirements – i.e. presents all required by the Pharmaceutical Law data.

RIGHT
The application can be made by anyone who fulfils the legal requirements – i.e. presents all data required by the Pharmaceutical Law.

WRONG
In relation to using up your holiday leave entitlement you are obliged to hand over to a person designated by the Employer all projects, tasks and duties that you carried out during your employment relationship and any related to these projects, tasks or duties documents.

RIGHT
In relation to using up your holiday leave entitlement you are obliged to hand over to a person designated by the Employer all projects, tasks and duties that you carried out during your employment relationship and any documents related to these projects, tasks or duties.

In the two following examples, the writers of the original sentences have made the same mistake as above, but I have changed the participle clauses into relative clauses. Relative clauses are clauses that start with a relative pronoun (which, that, who, etc.).

WRONG
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with a very brief analysis of the implemented into Polish law provisions of Directive 2002/91/EC on the energy performance of buildings.

RIGHT – RELATIVE CLAUSE
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with a very brief analysis of the provisions of Directive 2002/91/EC on the energy performance of buildings which have been implemented into Polish law.

WRONG
The Minister refers to a considered by the Ministry amendment to the draft, which has not been disclosed to the public yet.

RIGHT – RELATIVE CLAUSE
The Minister refers to an amendment to the draft, which is being considered by the Ministry and has not been disclosed to the public yet.

And finally, here are a couple of examples where the writers of the original sentences have used the passive in the participle clause. I have changed it into the active.

WRONG – PASSIVE
Please tell me who participated in the organised by you training?

RIGHT – ACTIVE
Please tell me who participated in the training you organised?

WRONG – PASSIVE
This report (the “Report”) has been prepared upon the instructions of AssetCo Sp. z o.o. (the “Company”) in connection with planned by the owner of the shopping centre “Galeria Syrena” in Warsaw (the “Centre”) future development works in the Centre (the “Development Works”).

RIGHT – RELATIVE CLAUSE – ACTIVE
This report (the “Report”) has been prepared upon the instructions of AssetCo Sp. z o.o. (the “Company”) in connection with future development works that the owner of the shopping centre “Galeria Syrena” in Warsaw (the “Centre”) plans to carry out in the Centre (the “Development Works”).

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s