Hi And thanks for reading this post.
I am trying to find the reason for errors in writing.

Being a guy, *it is hard for him to understand her point of view.
Having heard this before, *her patience was wearing thin.
Being very rational, *speaking frankly was a very important to him.
Wounding like an arrow, *he sometimes hated to hear the truth.
Mentioned as constructive criticism,*there were no hard feelings.

 The explanation is: When a participle clause is placed before a clause, the understood subject of the participle clause should be the same as the subject of the main clause. An error commonly occurs with a main-clause subject it or there, as shown

Can you please explain the rule involved here and how to correct it. I have no idea.

Thanks

Original Post
john121 posted:

Hi And thanks for reading this post.
I am trying to find the reason for errors in writing.

Being a guy, *it is hard for him to understand her point of view.
Having heard this before, *her patience was wearing thin.
Being very rational, *speaking frankly was a very important to him.
Wounding like an arrow, *he sometimes hated to hear the truth.
Mentioned as constructive criticism,*there were no hard feelings.

 The explanation is: When a participle clause is placed before a clause, the understood subject of the participle clause should be the same as the subject of the main clause. An error commonly occurs with a main-clause subject it or there, as shown

Can you please explain the rule involved here and how to correct it. I have no idea.

Thanks

Hi, John and welcome to the new platform,

Well, first of all, you should have mentioned the source of your questions and chosen a better topic. The answers to your questions are mentioned here:

http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/clauses-13.html

As for the explanation, you will find it on the same link:

The understood subject of both the main clause (independent) and the participle clause (dependent) should be the same person(s) or thing(s).

ahmedbtm posted:

As for the explanation, you will find it on the same link:

The understood subject of both the main clause (independent) and the participle clause (dependent) should be the same person(s) or thing(s).

Thanks, Ahmed. Since John121 (Welcome to the Grammar Exchange, John 121!)  has quoted an explanation that is almost identical to that explanation, the problem seems to be that he can't understand the explanation. He wants to have the explanation explained to him.

john121 posted:

Being a guy, *it is hard for him to understand her point of view.
Having heard this before, *her patience was wearing thin.
Being very rational, *speaking frankly was a very important to him.
Wounding like an arrow, *he sometimes hated to hear the truth.
Mentioned as constructive criticism,*there were no hard feelings.

Surely you can identify the main clause of each example, John121. In each example, the main clause is the part of the sentence which comes after the comma. The subject of the main clause is the subject of the sentence. The subject noun phrases are, respectively, "it," "her patience," "speaking frankly," "he," and "there."

Now let's look at the non-finite participial clauses which precede the main clauses. Each consists of a non-finite verb phrase, which forms a predicate. The predicate lacks an overt subject. Notice that we can't have sentences like "Is a guy," "Have heard this before," "Is very rational," "Mentioned as constructive criticism."

What is missing from such sentence fragments? They have no subject. In your examples, however, the non-finite correlates do have an implied subject. That subject is the subject of the main clause. The point that you need to understand is that the subject of the main clause needs to make sense as an implied subject of the participial clause.

In your examples, it does not make sense to construe the subject of the main clause as the implied subject of the participial clause. "It" cannot be a guy; it was not "her patience" that had heard this before; "speaking frankly" is not a rational entity; and "there" cannot be something that is mentioned as constructive criticism.

Each of the participial clauses, therefore, does not work. Each constitutes what is called a dangling modifier. Dangling modifiers do frequently occur in speech and writing, and some are worse than others. But speakers and writers should be on guard against them and try to rearrange sentences so that the modifiers do not dangle -- e.g.:

(1a) Being a guy, he has a hard time understanding her point of view.
(2a) Having heard this before, she had little patience to hear it again.
(3a) Being very rational, he thought it very important to speak frankly.

I have fixed the first three examples. The last two examples should be entirely rewritten. You can see that in each of the examples as I've revised them the participial clause does not dangle. The implied subject of "being a guy" is "he"; the implied subject of "having heard this before" is "she"; and the implied subject of "being very rational" is "he."

Do you understand now?

john121 posted:

That has made it a whole lot clearer. Can you please rewrite the last two

Hello again, John121: Let's look at the last two sentences again:

john121 posted:
[4] Wounding like an arrow, *he sometimes hated to hear the truth.

[5] Mentioned as constructive criticism,*there were no hard feelings.

In (4), the implied subject of "wounding like an arrow" is supposed to be "the truth." But I don't think we want our sentence to entail that the truth always wounds like an arrow. I might feel comfortable with the following revision:

(4a) Being capable of wounding like an arrow, the truth was sometimes something that he hated to hear.

In (5), "mentioned as constructive criticism" is a dangling modifier in the worst sense of the term: it doesn't apply to any noun phrase in the entire sentence. We have to supply a noun phrase to which it can apply. Here's a sentence that works:

(5a) Having been mentioned as constructive criticism, his remarks concerning imperfections did not engender any hard feelings.

Thanks. Brilliant reply.

I just need one last thing clearing up.

Can you please tell me, i read something online which puzzled me

" Phrases that describe should be placed close to what they describe."

Can you expand on this, is there a manner in which descrpitive phrases should be laid out.

Many thanks.

john121 posted:
Can you please tell me, i read something online which puzzled me

" Phrases that describe should be placed close to what they describe."

Can you expand on this, is there a manner in which descrpitive phrases should be laid out.

Hi, John121: That simply means that modifying phrases generally need to be placed right next to the word or phrase they modify. "Close to" and "next to" are vague, however. Generally, the modifying phrase will need to come either before or after the word or phrase it modifies.

Let's take a simple sentence like "The fat cat sat on the mat under the hot sun." That sentence makes sense and is grammatical. In the subject phrase, "the fat cat," "fat" modifies "cat," and we can't really say "the cat fat" (with the same meaning). Placement matters.

And we certainly can't say "The cat sat on the mat under the hot sun fat" and have "fat" modify cat. Imagine if we tried to say "The cat sat fat hot under the sun on the mat." Most of the meaning in the original is gone, and the sentence is ungrammatical. Again, placement is important.

I trust you can see how this topic applies to the first part of your thread. We revised the examples you quoted in such a way that the noun phrase constituting the implied subject of the introductory participial phrases immediately followed those participial phrases.

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

Going to the participle thing again, i read something in a harry potter book, jk was describing two men walking along:

" The high hedge curved into them, running off into the distance beyond the pair of imposing wrought-iron gates barring the men’s way."

It seems as though she is saying the men were running off into the distance rather than the hedge, because " they " is the last pronoun before the comma.

Can you please explain or expand on what the rule is.

Many thanks.

john121 posted:

Going to the participle thing again, i read something in a harry potter book, jk was describing two men walking along:

" The high hedge curved into them, running off into the distance beyond the pair of imposing wrought-iron gates barring the men’s way."

It seems as though she is saying the men were running off into the distance rather than the hedge, because " they " is the last pronoun before the comma.

Hi, John121: The implied subject of the participial clause beginning with "running" is "the high hedge," not "them"; that is, it was the high hedge that ran off into the distance beyond the gates. And "the high hedge" is, of course, also the subject of the main clause of the sentence.

There are two main differences between this sentence and the sentences you originally asked about. First, the participial clause in this Harry Potter sentence has clause-final placement; the earlier ones had clause-initial placement. Second, there is nothing wrong with the Harry Potter example.

A participial clause does not necessarily modify (or "describe," to use the term you used earlier) the noun phrase constituting its implied subject. Indeed, we haven't looked at a single example so far in which the participial clause does modify its implied subject in the matrix clause.

In each of the examples we have looked at, the participial clause does not have an adjectival function in the sentence: its role is not to modify a noun phrase. Rather, they have an adverbial function. They function to modify the verb phrase of the matrix clause.

In the Harry Potter example, "running off into the distance beyond the [gates]" modifies "curved into them." We could call it an adverbial of manner: the high hedge curved into them in such a way that it ran off into the distance beyond the gates.

The participial clauses with which we have been dealing are sometimes called "free adjuncts." In clause-final position, free-adjunct clauses never (or, to be more careful, I will say "almost never," even though I can't think of any exceptions right now) immediately follow their implied subject.

Does this violate the principle we discussed earlier? No. We were talking about modifiers. These clauses are adverbial; they modify the verb phrase. The verb phrase is the heart of the sentence. A clausal modifier of the verb phrase can therefore precede or follow the clause, or come in the middle.

Hi. Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.

One last thing, what do you think of parallel sentence structure. Is this a must, or a just a style of writing.

I wrote about a man entranced by a  pile of diamonds:

"Dazzling, hypnotic, as the multicoloured waterfall caught the lights."

But i was told off, stating that it should be dazzling, hypnotising,

What do you think? Is it a rule to be strictly obeyed, sometimes obeyed, or is it just an optional writing style?

Many thanks. John.

john121 posted:

One last thing, what do you think of parallel sentence structure. Is this a must, or a just a style of writing.

Hi, John: Parallelism is important, but how important it is depends upon the individual case. Since this is a completely different topic, if you'd like to discuss it, you should start a separate thread devoted to the topic. Thank you.

john121 posted:
I wrote about a man entranced by a  pile of diamonds:

"Dazzling, hypnotic, as the multicoloured waterfall caught the lights."

But i was told off, stating that it should be dazzling, hypnotising,

What do you think?

I don't have a problem with the coordination of "dazzling" and "hypnotic." Since both are adjectives, no exception to the principle of grammatical parallelism is involved. Again, the topic is worthy of a thread of its own.

Returning to the main theme of this thread, I'd like to share with you the free participial-clause adjuncts I found yesterday in a mere thirty pages of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895), a classic which I am rereading:

1. "Admitting that he might be wrong, a frenzied declaration of the kind would turn him into a worm."

2. "Some wished to fight like duelists, believing it to be correct to stand erect and be, from their feet to their foreheads, a mark."

3. "The youth, forgetting his neat plan of getting killed, gazed spellbound."

4. "The tall soldier, having prepared his rifle, produced a red handkerchief of some kind."

5. "The lieutenant sprang forward bawling."

6. "Too, he felt a pity for the guns, standing, six good comrades, in a bold row."

7. "He went as near as he dared trying to overhear words."

8. "When he looked loweringly up, quivering at each sound, his eyes had the expression of those of a criminal who thinks his guilt and his punishment great, and knows that he can find no words."

9. "The creepers, catching against his legs, cried out harshly as their sprays were torn from the barks of trees."

10. "High in a treetop he stopped, and, poking his head cautiously from behind a branch, looked down with an air of trepidation."

11. "Pausing at one time to look about him he saw, out at some black water, a small animal pounce in and emerge directly with a gleaming fish."

12. "He walked on, going from obscurity into promises of a greater obscurity."

13. "Leaning upon this he retreated, step by step, with his face still toward the thing."

14. "The branches, pushing against him, threatened to throw him over upon it."

15. "At last he burst the bonds which had fastened him to the spot and fled, unheeding the underbrush."

I have italicized the participial-clause adjunct in each example. Again, all these examples appear in the course of just thirty pages of the novel. They illustrate the variety of positions in which they may be found: at the beginning of a clause, in the middle of a clause, at the end of a clause. In (8), the participial-clause adjunct is part of an introductory subordinate when-clause.

Example (1) is the only case in which the participial-clause adjunct may be said to dangle and could therefore be prescriptively criticized. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the examples, especially if you find yourself unable to grasp the implied subjects. For further context, or to grasp pronoun reference (e.g., [10] is talking about a squirrel), all of the examples may be Googled and seen with the surrounding text.

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