Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Participle and Infinitive Phrases
- 1 Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Participle and Infinitive Phrases – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
- 1.1 Diagnostic Test
- 1.2 Grammar Explanation: Participle and Infinitive Phrases
- 1.3 Practice Exercise
- 1.4 Answer Key for Diagnostic Test
- 1.5 Answer Key for Practice Exercise
Although there is no separate grammar test component in the IELTS exam, the examiner will still assess you on it in the speaking and writing tests. A broad range of vocabulary and grammar is required to achieve a high score on the IELTS exam.
Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Participle and Infinitive Phrases – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
Participle and Infinitive Phrases
Underline the correct alternative in bold.
- Not to have /Not having an invitation, I couldn’t get into the party.
1. He didn’t own / Not owning a watch, Peter was often late.
2. Writing in the ‘Evening Standard’, an article / author complained about the lack of disabled facilities on the underground.
3. Objects bought/ buying in junk shops can often turn out to be quite valuable.
4. Neil Armstrong was the first man walking / to walk on the moon.
5. ‘It’s only me!’ she said, opening / she opened the door.
6. Their long-term plan was the company/ for the company to expand into Asia.
7. Hilary got to the station only finding/ to find that the train had already left.
8. Generally to speak / speaking, our best business comes via our website.
Complete each sentence using the number of words indicated in brackets, so that the sentence means the same as the one(s) before it.
- Sally’s only regret was that she hadn’t had any children.
- Not having had any children was Sally’s only regret. (3 words)
- Brian moved to Manchester so that he could be closer to his ailing parents.
- Brian moved to Manchester to be closer to his ailing parents. (2 words)
9. They couldn’t buy the house owing to the fact that the bank had refused their loan application.
Their loan application ______________ they weren’t able to buy the house. (3 words)
10. He is not rich so he won’t be able to afford it.
________________ rich, he won’t be able to afford it. (2 words)
11. If you service it regularly, the engine should last for 200,000 kilometres.
_______________ regularly, the engine should last for 200,000 kilometres. (1 word)
12. Hilary left the team when she had completed her project.
Her project _____________ Hilary left the team. (1 word)
13. My proudest possession is this watch. My grandfather left it to me.
The watch_______________ to me by my grandfather is my proudest possession. (1 word)
14. John felt too ashamed to carry on because he hadn’t kept his word.
________________ his word, John felt too ashamed to carry on. (3 words)
15. The children always had plenty to do because they lived near the sports centre.
________________ near the sports centre, the children always had plenty to do. (1 word)
16. As he had already passed his medical, Dean was able to start immediately.
__________________ his medical, Dean was able to start immediately. (2 words)
17. Their worst mistake was that they did not apply sooner.
Their worst mistake was_____________ sooner. (4 words)
18. We often find that the larger sizes are the first ones which we sell.
We often find the larger sizes are the first________________ (2 words)
19. David bought a laptop so that he could access his e-mails when he was travelling.
David bought a laptop ________________his e-mails when he was travelling. (2 words)
20. My honest opinion is that I really didn’t enjoy it.
I really didn’t enjoy it , ________________honest (2 words).
Grammar Explanation: Participle and Infinitive Phrases
Participle phrases (eg. having some time to kill) can be used in sentences to give extra information or to describe the result, cause or time of the information in the main clause. Extra information phrases are similar to relative clauses. Infinitive phrases (eg. to make the best of it) are used to talk about purpose and, in a similar way to relative clauses, after superlatives and other expressions.
Participle Phrases- Form and Use
Active and Passive Participles
There are several participle forms which we can use to make phrases:
|Active Participle||Passive Participle|
|Simple||X X X X||(not) repaired|
|Continuous||(not) repairing||(not) being repaired|
|Perfect||(not) having repaired||(not) having been repaired|
Participle phrases have active and passive forms but they do not have a tense. Their time reference is usually clear from the verb in the main clause:
- Not having a ticket, I won’t be able to go to the concert tomorrow. (present/future)
- Not having a ticket, I wasn’t able to go to the concert yesterday. (past)
In participle phrases, the active participle (-ing form) has an active meaning (see example above) and the passive participle (-ed form) has a passive meaning:
- They haven’t identified the body which was found in the Thames.
- They haven’t identified the body found in the Thames. (passive participle phrase)
Note: We can’t usually use modal verbs in participle phrases:
X The questions must be answered are net-easy ones.
✓ The questions which must be answered are not easy ones.
Verbs which are not normally used in the continuous, e.g. be, own, possess can be used in participle phrases:
X Yolanda is rich and is owning six homes.
✓ Yolanda is rich, owning six homes.
In many cases, participle phrases do not contain a subject. The subject of the main clause (in bold below) usually acts as the subject of the participle phrase:
- Moaning with pain, the victim was examined by a young doctor. (= The victim was moaning.)
If the participle phrase follows the object of the main clause then either the object or the subject of the main clause (in bold below) can be the subject of the participle phrase, depending on the meaning:
- We saw her plane coming in to land. (= The plane was coming in to land.)
- The company has opened a new factory, creating many new jobs. (= The company has created many new jobs.)
Note: A participle phrase at the beginning of a sentence cannot refer to the object of the main clause:
X Moaning with pain, a young doctor examined the victim. (= A young doctor was moaning, not the victim.)
In formal (usually written) English, participle phrases can have a subject which is not the same as the subject of the main clause.
- Horns locked, the two stags struggle for mastery.
- I crouched in the alleyway, my eyes straining in the darkness.
Types of Participle Phrases
Participle phrases are an efficient way of giving more information about a noun and can often replace a defining relative clause. Compare these examples:
- The man is very noisy. The man lives upstairs.
- ==> The man who lives upstairs is very noisy. (defining relative clause)
- ==> The man living upstairs is very noisy. (active participle phrase)
- The portrait was lovely The portrait was painted by my brother.
- ==> The portrait which was painted by my brother was lovely. (defining relative clause)
- ==> The portrait painted by my brother was lovely. (passive participle phrase)
We can only use a participle phrase to replace a defining relative clause if the subject of the main clause and the relative clause is the same We cannot use a participle phrase if there is another subject between the relative pronoun and the verb:
X The house living in is over a century old.
✓ The house which we live in is over a century old.
X The man engaged to has disappeared.
✓ The man who Trudy was engaged to has disappeared.
In defining phrases, we only use an active participle phrase (-ing form) when we are describing a continuing action or situation. We can’t use an -ing form for a single completed action:
X The thief taking her bag has been arrested.
✓ The thief who took her bag has been arrested. (single completed action)
Phrases of Reason, Condition and Results
Participle phrases can often operate like clauses of reason, condition, result and time:
|Full clause||Participle Phrase|
1Note that the result is often not intended:
- I stayed at work rather late, missing my last train home.
We usually use -ing participle phrases when two actions happen at the same time, or one happens immediately after the other. The -ing participle usually describes the background or earlier action. This is similar to the use of the continuous aspect for actions in progress and background situations:
- Leaving the motorway, we noticed an overturned truck on the verge. (= As/When we were leaving the motorway, we noticed …)
- Switching off the lights, I turned over and buried my head in the pillow. (= After I switched off the lights, I turned over…)
In written English an -ing participle phrase often describes the setting or background situation:
- Living in Los Angeles, Brad was one of those ever-optimistic movie wannabes.
Note: When we want to emphasise that one thing happened before another, we can use a perfect participle for the earlier action. The participle phrase can come before or after the main clause:
- Having passed my driving test, I was able to buy my first car. (= After I had passed my driving test, …)
- I was able to buy my first car, having passed my driving test.
The perfect participle can also describe reasons or causes as these usually come before a result.
- Having forgotten to take my keys, I had to borrow a set from my landlord. (= Because I had forgotten my keys. …)
Infinitive Phrases – Form and Use
Active and Passive Infinitives
We can use the following forms of the verb in infinitive phrases:
|Active Infinitive||Passive Infinitive|
|Simple||(not) to mend||(not) to be mend|
|Continuous||(not) to mending||(not) to be being mended|
|Perfect||(not) to have mended||(not) to have been broken|
Infinitive phrases can be active or passive, but they do not show tense. The time reference is shown by the context or by the tense of the verb in the main clause:
- The tax bill will be the first item to be debated in the next parliament. (future)
- Their proposal was the first one to be debated at yesterday’s planning meeting. (past)
But we can use the perfect infinitive for an event that happened before the main clause:
- Not to have acted sooner is his greatest regret. (= He regrets he didn’t act sooner.)
- Her greatest claim to fame is to have been chosen for the last Olympic squad. (= She is famous now because she was chosen.)
Subject and Complement
An infinitive phrase can act as the subject or complement of the verb be:
- To reach the top is their aim.
- Their aim is to reach the top.
Note: We use for with an infinitive phrase if the subject of the infinitive is not the same as the subject of the sentence:
X Their aim is the team to win
✓ Their aim is for the team to win.
An infinitive phrase can be the subject or complement of a sentence:
- To find her so distressed took him by surprise.
- They struggled to keep up their standard of living
Sentences with an infinitive phrase as their subject can sound rather formal. We usually prefer impersonal it or an –ing form.
- It is difficult to keep up a friendship
- Keeping up a friendship is difficult.
Types of Infinitive Phrase
We can often replace a relative clause after a superlative, an ordinal number (e.g. first), or one, next, last and only, with an infinitive phrase:
- The youngest person that entered the programme was just fourteen.
- ==> The youngest person to enter the programme was just fourteen.
- The window seat is usually the first one which is taken.
- ==>The window seat is usually the first one to be taken.
- Linda was the only one who stayed for the whole performance.
- ==> Linda was the only one to stay for the whole performance.
Note: We usually don’t use an infinitive phrase to replace relative clauses containing modal verbs, because the meaning would not be clear:
X He’s the only player to save the team from defeat.
✓ He’s the only player who might save the team from defeat
Purpose and Result Phrases
We often use an infinitive phrase to describe a deliberate purpose or aim. This is the infinitive of purpose:
- Davy took a year out to see the world and broaden his experience of life
We can use an infinitive phrase to describe discovering something unexpected, especially with only:
- He returned to the field to find the army in retreat.
- Eliza rejoined her friends, only to discover that Mr Darcy had left.
Uses in Discourse
We sometimes use infinitive and participle phrases to add a comment to something we are saying:
- I’m not very keen on it, to tell the truth.
- Generally speaking, they’re a pretty friendly bunch of people.
- It wasn’t a bad show, all things considered.
We can use an adverb to modify a participle. This describes the particular aspect of something which we are commenting on. The adverb can come before or after the participle:
- Financially speaking, few of the dot.com companies have a good track record.
- Compromised artistically. Picasso felt compelled to leave Paris.
Note that we can use adverbs in the same way with adjectives:
- Although economically successful, the government is starting to lose popularity.
In written English, it is usual to move from the familiar (the current topic) to the new (the information principle) and to be economical with words and avoid repetition. Participle and infinitive phrases help us to do these things. Compare these examples:
- Steve went home. He noticed a piece of paper which had been left on the doorstep as he walked towards the door.
- Steve went home. Walking towards the door, he noticed a piece of paper left on the doorstep.
- Because Marion didn’t have a degree she was the only one who wasn’t offered a permanent contract.
- Not having a degree. Marion was the only one not to be offered a permanent contract.
Choose the best participle forms (A- G) to fit into the sentences. One of the forms is not needed.
|A. giving||B. not having been given||C. not giving||D. having been given||E. being given||F. having given||G. given|
- The best part__________ to another actor, Josh felt unwilling to continue his involvement in the show.
- I’ve always treasured the watch_________ to me on my eighteenth birthday.
- The police officers stood at either end of the hallway, ___________ Ray no chance of escape.
- ___________our tickets to the attendant, we were ushered into the antechamber of the tomb.
- We are dividing up the grant according to need, the largest amount _____________ to the homeless.
- _____________ the mandatory month’s notice by the landlord, the tenant was able to stay on in the house.
Rewrite the following sentences, replacing the underlined phrase with a suitable participle phrase.
- As they hadn’t been arrested they were able to leave the police station.
- ==> Not having been arrested, they were able to leave the police station.
- She fell asleep while she sat in the armchair.
- Because I can speak Finnish I was able to follow their conversation
- My brother, who has split up with his wife, wants to move in with me.
- So far nobody has claimed the money we discovered under the floorboards.
- After he had moved out. Danny found it difficult to find a nice place to stay.
- If you leave it for too long, oil paint will form a skin.
- The sea was very rough, which made me feel sick.
- As I am not very good with figures I’ll let you do the accounts.
- This is a house which has been built to last forever.
- Provided you wash it at a cool temperature this garment will not shrink.
- People who play loud music late at night can be a real nuisance.
- Because he had been unemployed for so long. Jack despaired of ever finding a job.
- If you give them enough time, the engineers will be able to find the fault.
- The people who lived closest to the river bank were the worst affected.
- Due to the fact that I hadn’t registered. I was unable to vote in last week’s election.
Seven of these sentences have mistakes – either an unnecessary extra word or a missing word.
Tick [✓] the correct sentences and correct those with mistakes.
- Study medicine at university you need to pass a biology exam.
- I don’t think much of him, be honest with you.
- That was the very first programme to be shown on the new channel.
- We don’t want to be the last ones to leave.
- It isn’t necessary to be being rich to be happy.
- I was the first one in my family to have been gone to university.
- I’m afraid you aren’t the first person to mugged in this neighbourhood.
- She joined the Navy to see the world.
- It’s a shame not have seen the fireworks.
- The ‘Royale’ is the latest fabric to have designed by Silvio Moresco. .
The famous quotations (1-5) are missing infinitive phrases. Match the infinitive ( A – F) in the box to complete the quotations correctly.
- ‘To err is human, _________, divine.’ (Alexander Pope)
- ‘One should eat, _________, not live to eat.’ (Molière)
- ‘It is better ____________ and lost than never to have loved at all.’ (Samuel Butler)
- ‘To be, or _____________: that is the question.’ (William Shakespeare)
- ‘The best thing is _____________, but it takes make-up to look natural.’ (Calvin Klein)
|A. to have loved|
|B. to look natural|
|C. to live|
|E. to forgive|
|F. not to be|
Use the information in the table to write sentences, inserting an infinitive or a participle phrase. Some sentences can be written in more than one way. The first two have been done as examples.
|1. Carlos joined a dating agency.
2. I left my keys at the office.
3. Manuela hasn’t got a visa.
4. My nephew emigrated to Australia.
5. A new dam was built across the river.
6. The old house had been restored by experts.
7. I wasn’t very fit.
8. Dave and Maria’s children had left home.
9. They got home early.
l0. Only one person stayed behind.
Use infinitive and/or participle phrases to rewrite this extract from a TV listings magazine in a more natural way. The parts you need to change are underlined. You may need to change the order of some words. The first phrase has been done for you.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK
It dates from 1971 and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather won three Oscars. The film lasts almost three hours and is Shakespearean in its scope and ambition. It is the story of a New York mafia family which is headed by Marlon Brando as ‘the Godfather’.
Although Brando has the title role it is Al Pacino, who plays his troubled son and heir Michael, who steals the show in a masterly performance. As he struggles to reconcile his distaste for crime and brutality with his sense of family honour and duty, Pacino’s character embodies the moral dilemma at the heart of the movie.
The director intersperses long scenes of family life with shorter sequences of extreme violence in order to achieve his aim of taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Because it was shot in explicit detail, this violence may shock some viewers. But anyone who is prepared to put up with this will enjoy a unique dramatic experience. In fact, for many people, The Godfather is the greatest American film which had been made in the 1970s.
Dating from 1971___________________________________________
Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence. You must use between three and eight words, including the word given. This word must not be altered in any way. There is an example (0).
- (0) The first person that arrives in the office in the mornings is usually Cary.
- to Gary is usually……….the first person to arrive…….in the office in the mornings.
- Martin is always a great asset at any party because he is so charming.
1. being _________always a great asset to any party.
- I took a short computing course following my graduation from college
2. having________a short computing course.
- Celia’s major regret is that she had never made more of her musical abilities.
3. to________her musical abilities is Celia’s major regret.
- As she threw open the French windows Mary said ‘There’s nothing like fresh air!’
4. throwing ‘There’s nothing like fresh air!’ _________the French windows.
- The company launched an advertising campaign with the aim of increasing its market share.
5. to The company ________ its market share.
- Finding the old house in such a derelict state came as a great shock.
6. find It came as_______in such a derelict state.
- Frankly, I don’t think my clients will ever agree to those prices.
7. frank I don’t think my clients will ever agree________
- The shrubs should grow well if you plant them in a sunny spot.
8. planted_______should grow well.
- They will probably sell the ground floor flat first.
9. be They expect the ground floor flat ________
- My brother is having a lot of trouble finding a decent job as he hasn’t had the benefit of a college education.
10. Having______a college education, my brother is having a lot of trouble finding a job.
- Sophie was a demanding boss because she was such a perfectionist.
11. being _______was a demanding boss.
- The town hall was one of the few buildings that wasn’t destroyed in the earthquake.
12. been The town hall was one of the few______in the earthquake.
Answer Key for Diagnostic Test
- Not owning
- to walk
- for the company
- to find
- having been refused
- Not being
- Not having kept
- Having passed
- not to have applied
- to sell
- to access
- to be
Answer Key for Practice Exercise
(Extra unnecessary phrase is C.)
- sitting in the armchair
- Being able to speak Finnish
- having split up with his wife
- discovered under the floorboards
- Having moved out
- Left for too long
- making me feel sick
- Not being very good with figures
- built to last forever
- Washed at a cool temperature
- People playing loud music late at night
- Having been unemployed for so long
- Given enough time
- The people living closest to the river bank
- Not having registered
- Study ==> To study
- be honest ==> to be honest
- to be being rich ==> to be rich
- to have been gone ==> to have gone
- to mugged ==> to be mugged
- not have seen ==> not to have seen
- to have designed ==> to have been designed
- Carlos joined a dating agency to find a girlfriend.
- Having left my keys at the office, I couldn’t get into my flat last night.
- Not having a visa, Manuela can’t travel to the USA.
- My nephew emigrated to Australia to start a new life.
- A new dam was built across the river, flooding thousands of hectares of farmland./ A new dam having been built across the river, thousands of hectares of farmland were flooded.
- Having been restored by experts, the old house regained its former glory./ The old house had been restored by experts, regaining its former glory.
- Not being very fit, I was unable to finish the marathon.
- Their children having left home, Dave and Maria felt they should move to a smaller house.
- They got home early to find the place had been burgled.
- The only person to stay behind was the caretaker.
(Participle and infinitive clauses underlined)
Dating from 1971 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather won three Oscars. Lasting almost three hours, the film is Shakespearean in its scope and ambition. It is the story of a New York mafia family headed by Marlon Brando as ‘the Godfather’. Although Brando has the title role it is Al Pacino, playing his troubled son and heir Michael, who steals the show in a masterly performance.
Struggling to reconcile his distaste for crime and brutality with his sense of family honour and duty, Pacino’s character embodies the moral dilemma at the heart of the movie.
To achieve his aim of taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride the director intersperses long scenes of family life with shorter sequences of extreme violence. (or: The director intersperses long scenes of family life with shorter sequences of extreme violence to achieve his aim of taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride.) Shot in explicit detail, this violence may shock some viewers. But anyone prepared to put up with this will enjoy a unique dramatic experience. In fact, for many people The Godfather is the greatest American film (to have been) made in the 1970s.
- Being so charming, Martin is
- Having graduated (from college) I took
- Not to have made more of
- said Mary, throwing open
- launched an advertising campaign to increase
- a great shock to find the old house
- to those prices, to be frank.
- Planted in a sunny spot, the shrubs
- to be the first (flat) to be sold/to be sold first.
- Not having had the benefit of
- Being such a perfectionist, Sophie
- buildings not to have been destroyed/buildings that had not been destroyed