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    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #1

    Yet another gerund problem...

    In grammar class on Monday, the class was presented with the sentence,

    "Driving in the countryside while it is dark can be dangerous."

    The class said that there are three clauses here: 'Driving in the countryside', 'while it is dark', and 'can be dangerous'.

    I disagreed with this, and asked the teacher, 'Isn't 'driving' a noun, and the subject of 'can be dangerous'. But she insisted that it was a verb.

    I did mention 'gerund' but this just confused matters as always - she said 'yes, it's a gerund. So it's a verb.'

    Could somone clarify? To me, there are two clauses - 'Driving can be dangerous' and 'while it is dark'. 'Driving' is a noun.

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    #2

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    In grammar class on Monday, the class was presented with the sentence,

    "Driving in the countryside while it is dark can be dangerous."

    The class said that there are three clauses here: 'Driving in the countryside', 'while it is dark', and 'can be dangerous'.

    I disagreed with this, and asked the teacher, 'Isn't 'driving' a noun, and the subject of 'can be dangerous'. But she insisted that it was a verb.

    I did mention 'gerund' but this just confused matters as always - she said 'yes, it's a gerund. So it's a verb.'

    Could somone clarify? To me, there are two clauses - 'Driving can be dangerous' and 'while it is dark'. 'Driving' is a noun.
    ***NOT a teacher***I think I have good news: both you and your teacher are correct. As people like to say in the United States, it's a win-win situation. A gerund is a noun (as you said) and a verb (as your teacher said). That is why some books don't like to use the word "gerund" and just say an "-ing" word. I also think you are correct: The main clause is "Driving in the countryside can be dangerous," and the subordinate adverbial clause is "while it is dark." Thank you.


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    #3

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    [Driving [in the countryside] [while it is dark]] can be dangerous.

    1. X can be dangerous = matrix clause
    2. [Pro] driving in the countryside = gerund clause
    3. while it is dark = subordinate to the gerund clause




    What is interesting is this:

    Driving can be dangerous. Which driving? Driving in the countryside.
    Driving can be dangerous. Where? In the countryside.

    Which driving is dangerous? Driving in the countrside, that driving.

    Driving in the countryside is dangerous. Which driving (in the countryside) is dangerous? Driving in the countryside while it is dark is dangerous, that is what. When is it dangerous to drive a car in the countryside? While it is dark, that is when. Adjectival or adverbial? We know that the subject is a noun, a gerund. Which word class has the potential to modify the subject? Adjective. On the other hand, 'When is it dangerous to drive?' In the dark.

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    #4

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    In grammar class on Monday, the class was presented with the sentence,

    "Driving in the countryside while it is dark can be dangerous."

    The class said that there are three clauses here: 'Driving in the countryside', 'while it is dark', and 'can be dangerous'.

    I disagreed with this, and asked the teacher, 'Isn't 'driving' a noun, and the subject of 'can be dangerous'. But she insisted that it was a verb.

    I did mention 'gerund' but this just confused matters as always - she said 'yes, it's a gerund. So it's a verb.'

    Could somone clarify? To me, there are two clauses - 'Driving in the countryside can be dangerous' and 'while it is dark'. 'Driving' is a noun.
    Yes, with the small correction, you are right.
    (You can't divide a sentence into two clauses and leave bits out.)

    "Driving in the countryside" can't be a clause because it doesn't have a finite verb.


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    #5

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, with the small correction, you are right.
    (You can't divide a sentence into two clauses and leave bits out.)

    "Driving in the countryside" can't be a clause because it doesn't have a finite verb.
    There are finite clauses as well as non-finite clauses. In addition, there are verbless clauses.


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    #6

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    Thank you all for your help.

    There are finite clauses as well as non-finite clauses. In addition, there are verbless clauses.
    I really am new to grammar, so saying this confuses me. I thought the one thing a clause needed in order to be a clause was a verb?

    Perhaps sentences like 'okay', 'yes', 'no' are verbless clauses? However, I was taught that these are 'social' words with no true linguistic nor propositional meaning. Most of them aren't even stored along with the rest of our words.

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    #7

    Re: Yet another gerund problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Perkamen View Post
    There are finite clauses as well as non-finite clauses. In addition, there are verbless clauses.
    Yes, the number of clauses in a sentence would naturally depend on your definition of 'clause' and what grammar you're using.

    This is what wikipedia says:
    "Traditionally, a clause was said to have both a finite verb and its subject, whereas a phrase either contained a finite verb but not its subject (in which case it is a verb phrase) or did not contain a finite verb. Hence, in the sentence "I didn't know that the dog ran through the yard," "that the dog ran through the yard" is a clause, as is the sentence as a whole, while "the yard," "through the yard," "ran through the yard," and "the dog" are all phrases. However, modern linguists do not draw the same distinction, as they accept the idea of a non-finite clause, a clause that is organized around a non-finite verb."
    Clause - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    We tend to use traditional grammar to describe English here, unless otherwise specified - given that it's not primarily a linguistic site, but a language learning site.

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