I am writing to ask the following sentence.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, various pioneers in educational reform were hard at work bring about similar improvements to the education system on the other side of the Atlantic.
--What does this sentence mean?
--There are two verbs: one is were hard at work; the other is bring about ....of Atlantic. Why can a sentence has two verbs without any conjunction? and what is the subject for the second verb?
Here's the sentence's basic structure:
Pioneers (Subject) were (Main verb) hard at work (Adjectival phrase).
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
=> Prepositional phrase in form, and adverb phrase in function: it tells us WHEN.
in educational reform
=> Prepositional phrase in form, and adjectival phrase in function: it modifies the noun "pioneers".
bring about similar improvements to the education system on the other side of the Atlantic
=> "bring" is odd in that context. It should "bringing", a participle:
Pioneers were hard at work bringing about similar. . . .
Words that end in -ing that do not co-occur with BE (is, are, were, etc) function as participles or gerunds. Gerunds act as subjects and objects, and participles function as modifiers. "bringing . . ." functions as a modifier.
We could change "bringing' into a verb by adding a subject and a verb, like this,
Pioneers were hard at work and they were bringing about similar . . .
But when we add "and" we separate the ideas "hard at work" and "bring about . . .", making them into two separate events.