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  1. #1
    sky3120's Avatar
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    Default The function of independent phrases

    The spectators leaped to their feet, and they roared approval.
    -> The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval.



    We know that independent clauses do not modify anything and they stand alone as a complete sentence.
    Then, how about independent phrases? I think they are just reduced forms of independent clauses, so they function the same with clauses.



    Can we say "and they roard approval" modifes "leaped" or the sentence in front ?

    If not, "roaring approval" modifes "leaped" or the sentence in front in the second example or none?


    What do you think? Thank you so much.
    Last edited by sky3120; 03-Sep-2012 at 10:19.

  2. #2
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    (1) "The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval."

    Modifiers modify not sentences or clauses, but words.

    Present participles like "roaring" are usually adjectives and as such usually modify nouns or pronouns.

    Adjectives should modify the first noun that precedes them or more rarely the first noun that follows them.

    In the sentence you have it is the spectators who roar, not their feet.

    Therefore the sentence should read "Roaring their approval, the spectators leaped to their feet" or "The spectators, roaring their approval, leaped to their feet". I prefer the first possibility, because it does not separate the spectators from what they do, which is roar.

    (2) "The spectators leaped to their feet, and they roared approval."

    Verbal phrases such as "leaped to their feet" modify nothing. When introduced by a coordinating conjunction they simply form compound sentences, as in your example.

    A subordinate clause introduced by a relative pronoun or a subordinating conjunction can act as a modifier.

    However, since the roaring approval is really the focus of the sentence, it should be the leaping to their feet that is subordinated.

    As they leapt to their feet, the spectators roared in approval.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    Adjectives should modify the first noun that precedes them or more rarely the first noun that follows them.

    In the sentence you have it is the spectators who roar, not their feet.
    In my opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with "The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval." The spectators were not roaring as they leapt (my preferred second form), they were roaring as they leapt to their feet.

  4. #4
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    I agree the sentence "The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval" is not really wrong. I strongly believe, however, that learners should be actively encouraged to follow rigorously the principle that modifiers modify the nearest word possible. (1) The principle helps them properly to interpret and understand English sentences. (2) Following the principle helps learners avoid dangling modifiers and other clumsiness.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    I agree the sentence "The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval" is not really wrong. I strongly believe, however, that learners should be actively encouraged to follow rigorously the principle that modifiers modify the nearest word possible. (1) The principle helps them properly to interpret and understand English sentences. (2) Following the principle helps learners avoid dangling modifiers and other clumsiness.
    But the particular sentence we are talking about is fine as it is. So why tell learners that it 'should' be expressed in another way?

  6. #6
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    A sentence that is not wrong is not necessarily a good sentence.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The function of independent phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    A sentence that is not wrong is not necessarily a good sentence.
    That is of course true but, "The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval" is not a bad sentence IMO.

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