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I am studying how to use present participle clauses in sentences. Like:

Because Tom felt hungry, he went into the kitchen and opened the fridge.

Can be written as:

Feeling hungry, Tom went into the kitchen and opened the fridge.

But how can I use the present participle with sentences using modal verbs like below?

Because Tom could not find any food to eat, he went back to sleep.

I don't know which one is correct:

  1. Could not find any food to eat, Tom went back to sleep.
  2. Could not finding any food to eat, Tom went back to sleep.
  3. Not being able to find any food to eat, Tom went back to sleep. (Someone suggested that I should use 'be able to' to replace 'can/could')
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  • Note that 'Feeling hungry, Tom went into the kitchen and opened the fridge' is possibly a close synonym of the original, implying reason, but 'Feeling tired, John walked back to the hotel', not demanding that the present participial clause shows a reason, is not equivalent to 'Because he felt tired, John walked back to the hotel'. Dec 13, 2019 at 17:07

1 Answer 1

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Modal verbs do not have participles, so you can't use them in this construction.

The only way round is to find a non-modal synonym, as you have in your third example. That is the only one which is grammatical.

Another alternative is to use an adjective instead of a participle: you could have said Unable to find any food to eat.

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  • oh, I see, thank you.
    – Noctis
    Dec 13, 2019 at 10:45

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