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    #1

    present participle

    Hi, what I want to ask is how we can pin down the subject of a present participle? Here are some sentences I've read containing present participles:
    "They grew sugarcane on several continents, generating huge profits."
    Does the sentence mean "They grew sugarcane on several continents, and they generated huge profits." or "They grew sugarcane on several continents, and (the fact) that they grew sugarcane on several continents generated huge profits."?
    "European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange, fueling the age of reason" Does the sentence mean "European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange, and European coffee houses fueled the age of reason" or "European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange, and (the fact) that European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange fueled the age of reason." ?

    Please tell me which sentence is correct and explain why it is correct. Thank you.

    "Less developed nations suffer from shortages of clean water, affecting the health of those populations." I can see that this sentence is supposed to come from "Less developed nations suffer from shortages of clean water, and shortages of clean water affect the health of those populations." English teachers always tell us a present participle can't be used in this way, but in English newspapers I've seen this kind of sentence structure very frequently. There seems to be a very huge gap between what English teachers(I mean those who are not native English speakers)say and the reality.

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    #2

    Re: present participle

    Hello 7

    1. They grew sugarcane on several continents, generating huge profits.
    2. European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange, fueling the age of reason.
    3. Less developed nations suffer from shortages of clean water, affecting the health of those populations.

    You're quite right: the subject of the participial clause is often obscure. In such cases, it may help to substitute "a situation which" + "simple tense" for the participle. Thus:

    1a. They grew sugarcane on several continents, [a situation which generated] huge profits.
    2a. European coffee houses became hotbeds of intellectual exchange, [a situation which fuelled] the age of reason.
    3a. Less developed nations suffer from shortages of clean water, [a situation which affects] the health of those populations.

    In other cases, the participial subject is clearly the same as the subject of the main clause, e.g.

    4. Walking along the road, MrQ tripped over a dead cat.

    But cf. the famous "dangling participle", where the subject is ambiguous:

    5. Walking along the road, a dead cat fell on his head.

    Here, the apparent subject is the dead cat; but the true subject is the (implicit) person who was walking along the road.

    Let me know if it's still unclear!

    All the best,

    MrP

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