Lack Of Parallelism Or Something Else?

1. Roozbeh is a crazy sleeper. He often talks in his sleep. One time, I heard him say, “More wings! More wings! More wings!” Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asking how you are, but he never remembers it in the morning.

2. Roozbeh is a crazy sleeper. He often talks in his sleep. One time, I heard him say, “More wings! More wings! More wings!” Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asks how you are, but he never remembers it in the morning.



My student thinks the version #1 is wrong and it should have been written as #2. To me, it's fine either way because in "talks to you, even asking how you are" the phrase "[sometimes] even asking how you are" modifies "talks to you," while in version #2 talking to the listener and asking how the listener is are mentioned as two different things. Both versions can be describing the same situation, but they do so in slightly different ways.

1. "Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asking how you are." (Sometimes when he looks right at you and talks to you he's asking how you are.)

2. "Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, even asks how you are." (Sometimes he looks right at you and talks to you. Sometimes he even looks right at you and asks how you are.)



In other words, In "even asking how you are", the asking is part of the talking. In "even asks how you are", the asking is a separate action, as is the looking.



What do you think?

Original Post

Hi, Freeguy,

Your reasoning is good, except for one thing: it doesn't account for the use of "even," which wants to introduce a grammatical structure of the same type -- in this case, another finite verb phrase in the simple present. I would add "and":

2a) Sometimes he looks right at you, talks to you, and even asks how you are, but he never remembers it in the morning.

Your interpretation would work with "even" if the participial modifying phrase were a member of a series or at least a pair of coordinated items. I would prefer a series. Thus you could have:

3) Sometimes he does very strange things, looking right at you, talking to you, and even asking you how you are.

So, yes, parallelism is of the essence here. But it isn't parallelism for parallelism's sake. The grammatical parallelism is mandated by the use of "even." You can have the parallelism at the level of the finite verb phrase or at the modifier level.

Your student deserves a cupcake.

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