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I have this participle clause in this sentence:

Having confessed his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.

I want to rewrite this sentence but I'm considering which one is correct.

  1. He has confessed his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.
  2. He confessed his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.
  3. confessing his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.

Thank you very much!

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  • 1
    Why would you want to rewrite it?
    – Ricky
    Oct 8, 2018 at 15:53
  • I'm learning about participle and I'm confused about "having confessed his mistake" is in the past or the present. Why it has "having" here. Oct 8, 2018 at 15:57
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    It's a non-finite clause - a gerund-participial to be precise. Like all non-finite clauses, it's tenseless. Its function is that of supplementary adjunct. The closest alternative is 3. which implies that the confessing and the begging are contemporaneous, while your original example, by contrast, implies that the confessing was followed some time later by the begging.
    – BillJ
    Oct 8, 2018 at 16:50

1 Answer 1

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From the OP's comment:

I'm learning about participle and I'm confused about "having confessed his mistake" is in the past or the present. Why it has "having" here.

The original sentence (that does not require rewriting) runs as follows:

Having confessed his mistake, he begged for forgiveness.

"He deviated from the principles."

"Do we scold him now?"

"No need."

"Why is that?"

"He has confessed his mistake."

That would be the past perfect: an accomplishment in the past that has a direct bearing on the person's present. Has confessed.

Now if you pick up that past-perfect phrase and turn it into a clause in a compound sentence, it becomes -

"Having confessed his mistake, he ..."

That's all there is to it, really.

Your suggestion, i.e. "Confessing his mistake, he begged for forgiveness" also works, kind of, but is far less precise.

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  • It's not less precise; it means that the confessing and the begging happen at the same time, while the original meant that the begging happened after the confessing.
    – AmI
    Oct 8, 2018 at 17:31
  • @AmI: Not quite. Confessing and begging forgiveness cannot physically happen at the same time. In this particular case, the word "After" (before "confessing") is dropped, is all.
    – Ricky
    Oct 8, 2018 at 17:36
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    How do you know the word "Before" wasn't dropped?
    – AmI
    Oct 8, 2018 at 17:39
  • @AmI: Good point. Well, it would follow from the sentence's logic, would it not! Splitting hairs can be a lot of fun.
    – Ricky
    Oct 8, 2018 at 17:47

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