About the matters of ‘Participle or Participial clauses’ I’ve been confused quite long time and would really appreciate if you kindly help me with your valuable opinions for my three inquiries below, when you feel convenient;
Q1. Are the ‘Participle clauses’ and ‘Participial clauses’ really the same terminology, as I’ve heard most natives consider both the interchangeable ones?
Q2. Do ‘Participle(Participial) clauses’ modify the whole sentence as adverb or the nouns as adjective, while I understand some natives support for the former and some do for the latter as follows? Which is the predominant theory in current mainstream linguists?
A. the opinions supporting for participle clauses as adverb;
1. ‘Practical English Usage’, 3rd Edition, p.383
3) adverbial clauses: ‘Putting down my paper, I ...’
Participle clauses can also be used in similar ways to full adverbial clauses, expressing condition, reason, time relations, result etc. (This can only happen, of course, when the idea of condition, reason etc is so clear that no conjunction is needed to signal it.) Adverbial participle clauses are usually rather formal.
- Used economically, one tin will last for six weeks. (= If it is used ...)
- Having failed my medical exams, I took up teaching. (= As I had failed ...)
- Putting down my newspaper, I walked over to the window. (= After I had put down my newspaper, ...)
- It rained for two weeks on end, completely ruining our holiday. (= ... so that it completely ruined our holiday.)
2. ‘Advanced Grammar In Use’ - 3rd Edition,
Unit 58, ‘Participle clauses with adverbial meaning’ 1
We can use present participle (-ing) and past participle (-ed) clauses with an adverbial meaning. (See also Unit 59.) They often give information about the timing, causes, and results of the events described:
- Opening her eyes, the baby began to cry. (= When she opened her eyes ...)
3. Waiting for Ellie, I made some tea. (While I was waiting for Ellie, ...)
B. the opinions supporting for participle clauses as adjective;
A participial phrase or clause is a wonderful tool for writers because it gives color and action to a sentence. By employing verbals—words derived from a verb—along with other grammatical elements, an author can craft clauses that function as an adjective, modifying nouns and pronouns. The participial phrase contains a participle and the other words in the phrase that modify the noun or pronoun. They can't stand alone as complete sentences.
Present or Past
A participle may be followed by an adverb, a prepositional phrase, an adverb clause, or any combination of these. They are set off by commas and function the same way adjectives do in a sentence.
Past-participial phrase: Invented by an Indiana housewife in 1889, the first dishwasher was driven by a steam engine.
Present-participial phrase: Working before unfriendly crowds, the referee has orders to exude poise under the most trying circumstances.
A participial phrase is a group of words consisting of a participle and the modifier(s) and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the direct object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in the participle, such as:
- Removing his coat, Jack rushed to the river.
The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying ‘Jack’.
- Removing (participle)
- his coat (direct object of action expressed in participle)
- Having been a gymnast, Lynn knew the importance of exercise.
The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying ‘Lynn’.
- Having been (participle)
- a gymnast (subject complement for Lynn, via state of being expressed in participle)
3. 'A participial phrase may appear in any several position in a sentence, but it usually modifies the subject of the sentence.' (by Philip Gucker, the author of ‘Essential English Grammar’) In accordance with his theory, following sentences should be understood as below;
- Looking back on it, I have absolutely no idea why I said that. (= I, who look back on it, have absolutely no idea why I said that.)
- Being tired, he went to bed earlier. (= He, who was tired, went to bed earlier.)
4. ‘The Free Dictionary’
When they function as adjectives, participles can form participle phrases (sometimes known as participle clauses) with any information that modifies or complements them. Because they function as adjectives, participle phrases modify nouns, noun phrases, or pronouns in a sentence.
Present participle phrases;
If we use the present participle in a phrase, we give the phrase an active meaning. In other words, the noun being modified is the agent of the action expressed by the present participle. For example:
- Singing in the shower, I was oblivious to the doorbell ringing. (I was singing.)
- James, hiding under the bed, was completely silent. (James was hiding.)
Past participle phrases;
If we use the past participle to form an adjectival phrase, the noun being modified is either given a passive role in the action, or else is being described. For example:
- My car, destroyed in the accident, was taken away by the mechanics.
- My sister, exhausted after a long day’s work, fell asleep on the sofa.
Q3. If the past participle phrase begins a sentence, is it either ‘participle clause with adverbial meaning’ or ‘past-participial phrase’ serving as adjective (fronting the reduced relative clause)?
A. the opinions supporting for ‘past-participial phrase’;
1. ‘The Guide to Grammar and Writing’
1) Present Participle. To show action occurring at the same time as that of the verb.
- Working on the fundamentals, the team slowly began to improve. [The action expressed by 'began' happened in the past, at the same time the working happened.]
Authority for this section: The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsay Fowler and Jane E. Aaron, & Kay Limburg. 6th ed. HarperCollins: New York. 1995. By permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc. Format and examples our own. (Guide to Grammar and Writing)
2) ... Participial phrases always act as adjectives. When they begin a sentence, they are often set off by a comma (as an introductory modifier); otherwise, participial phrases will be set off by commas if they are parenthetical elements.
- The stone steps, having been worn down by generations of students, needed to be replaced. [modifies "steps"]
1) Verb Function 4 - Past-Participial Phrase (-ed Phrase)
But in addition to these conjugated forms, the past participle forms the past-participial phrase. It invariably serves as an adjective, not as an adverb, and not as a noun.
- Enacted in 1964, the Civil Rights Act moved power from the states to the federal government. (functioning adjective modifying ‘Civil Rights Act’)
* Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, p. 392 (Dodd, Mead & Co. 1960) (vol. 2).
2) But past participles also form past-participial phrases. These phrases always act as adjectives (the case decided by the court). You can start sentences with a past-participial phrase. Just make sure it modifies the grammatical subject of the sentence. Here are some examples of past-participial phrases:
- Written by the personnel director, the office manual details the rules of employment.
- This letter, mailed on January 17th, demanded a response.
B. the opinion supporting for ‘participle clause with adverbial meaning’;
‘A comprehensive grammar of the English language’ p.1124-1125
15.61 Subjectless supplementive clauses
The position immediately after the antecedent poses the most difficulties for analysis. When subjectless supplementive clauses occur in that position, they may be indistinguishable from postmodifying participle clauses or (in the case of verbless clauses) from noun phrases in apposition. Thus the two constructions may merge in that it is impossible (and semantically unimportant) to decide whether the participle clause in  is to be regarded as functionally equivalent to the nonrestrictive relative clause in [1a]:
- This substance, discovered almost by accident, has revolutionized medicine. 
- This substance, which was discovered almost by accident, has revolutionized medicine.[1a]
Alternatively, it may be equivalent to a subjectless supplementive clause:
- Discovered almost by accident, this substance has revolutionized medicine.
Wow! What a post!
deepcosmosQ1. Are the ‘Participle clauses’ and ‘Participial clauses’ really the same terminology, as I’ve heard most natives consider both the interchangeable ones?
participial phrase, participle phrase, participial clause, participle clause
I don't know of any grammar book that distinguishes between these terms. They all mean the same thing.
participial seems like an older term than participle, and phrase seems much older than clause. So "participle clause" seems to be the most popular term these days (unless you're reading a lot of books published years ago). The reason is that we think of structures that contain verbs as clauses, and participles are verb forms.
deepcosmosQ2. Do ‘Participle(Participial) clauses’ modify the whole sentence as adverb or the nouns as adjective, while I understand some natives support for the former and some do for the latter as follows? Which is the predominant theory in current mainstream linguists?
I have no idea what the predominant theory is these days. We seem to be in a period of transition.
The answers you'll get to your post will, I'm sorry to say, only add more theories to confuse you.
Personally, I see some participle clauses as adverbial and others as adjectival. I don't think there's any way we can escape that because there are so many cases where it's obvious.
Seeing the broken glass on the floor, he realized that they had been burgled. ~
Because he saw the broken glass on the floor, he realized that they had been burgled.
The woman wearing the funny yellow hat is my cousin Jane. ~
The woman who is wearing the funny yellow hat is my cousin Jane.
deepcosmosQ3. If the past participle phrase begins a sentence, is it either ‘participle clause with adverbial meaning’ or ‘past-participial phrase’ serving as adjective (fronting the reduced relative clause)?
As above (Q2), it could be either one. In my experience the fronting of a reduced relative clause is comparatively rare. I would use that analysis only as a last resort.
My personal view is that the so-called "adverbial participle clauses" are more like secondary predicates for the subject of the main clause.
He returned to the front door, making sure it was locked.
~ He returned to the front door. He made sure it was locked.
But that's only the basic structure. There's always a relationship that is unstated and must be supplied by the reader:
He returned to the front door because he wanted to make sure it was locked.
He returned to the front door in order to make sure it was locked.
If memory serves, the term 'participial clause' was introduced about twenty years ago.
The idea is that the term 'participle' is used for the verb while the term 'participial' is used for the corresponding clause that it heads.