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    #1

    Participial Construction: Is this correct?

    Dear teachers and native speakers,

    I used to think that a sentence like the following is NOT correct because the subject in the main clause and the subject in the subordinate clause are not the same:

    Example) When editing data, the screen will contain various data fields.

    *If it is said in a clause, it should be "When you edit data, the screen will contain various data fields." Therefore, the subject in the main clause and the subject in the subordinate clause are different.

    However, I have found that an author of one book says that this sentence is correct even though the subjects are different here. He says that as long as the subject in the subordinate clause (in this example, "you") is "you," the subject in the main clause does not have to be the same. Is it really correct? If this is really correct, this is an exceptional rule (besides the cases in absolute participial constructions), isn't it?

    Hmmm, I have heard that this kind of mistake is frequently seen even among native speakers though.... Someone who is an expert in this field, please, please help me solve this problem.

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    #2

    Re: Participial Construction: Is this correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by gorikaz View Post
    Dear teachers and native speakers,

    I used to think that a sentence like the following is NOT correct because the subject in the main clause and the subject in the subordinate clause are not the same:

    Example) When editing data, the screen will contain various data fields.

    *If it is said in a clause, it should be "When you edit data, the screen will contain various data fields." Therefore, the subject in the main clause and the subject in the subordinate clause are different.

    However, I have found that an author of one book says that this sentence is correct even though the subjects are different here. He says that as long as the subject in the subordinate clause (in this example, "you") is "you," the subject in the main clause does not have to be the same. Is it really correct? If this is really correct, this is an exceptional rule (besides the cases in absolute participial constructions), isn't it?

    Hmmm, I have heard that this kind of mistake is frequently seen even among native speakers though.... Someone who is an expert in this field, please, please help me solve this problem.
    It rather depends on what you mean by 'correct'. While there is nothing specifically ungrammatical about the sentence, it is nonetheless semantically absurd, since it ostensibly asserts that a 'screen' can 'edit' things, which we know to be neither the case in reality nor even the writer's intended meaning.

    This kind of construction, known as a 'dangling participle', although extremely common, is one which careful users of English will scrupulously avoid. I would advise you to do the same!

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    #3

    Re: Participial Construction: Is this correct?

    Thank you for your advice and comment on this issue.
    I see, I would follow the strict rule as you suggest--avoiding the use of a dangling participle.

    Thank you very much for helping me solve this problem. Now, I can sleep well tonight.

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Participial Construction: Is this correct?

    I think you were right before. It is thoughtless to use two different subjects unknowingly.

    In French we used to teach it with this example:

    "Riding my bicycle, a cow knocked me over."

    -- "I didn't know cows could ride bicycles."

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