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    #1

    ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    The sentence below comes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I don't quite understand why a present participle, 'tripping', goes after 'broken her leg.' Is that a regular usage - break one's leg + Ving ? I really can't find that in dictionaries. Can anyone help and explain ?

    "It turned out shed broken her leg tripping over one of her cats, and she didnt seem quite as fond of them as before."---Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    It's common and natural to use an ing-form of the verb to explain the 'verbal background' of something. Examples:

    • He broke a tooth eating a toffee.
    • He died fighting for his honour.
    • He went to sleep thinking about apple crumble and custard.
    • ...


    b

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    PS There is another sort of case, involving verbs that connote 'spending time':

    • He spent the rest of the journey wonderiong what to tell his teacher.
    • He spent the night dreaming of apple crumble and custard [again! ]
    • He whiled away the time doing a crossword.
    • ...


    In these cases the V-ing explains the main verb; in my first answer, the main verb just provided a background.

    b

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    #4

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It's common and natural to use an ing-form of the verb to explain the 'verbal background' of something. Examples:

    • He broke a tooth eating a toffee.
    • He died fighting for his honour.
    • He went to sleep thinking about apple crumble and custard.
    • ...


    b
    And to give sentences analogous to the OP's, the following are also correct in the right context:

    • He had broken a tooth eating a toffee.
    • He had died fighting for his honour.
    • He had gone to sleep thinking about apple crumble and custard.

    You can use it in any tense:
    I earn my living slaving over a hot stove. (present habitual)
    I'm becoming bored listening to you. (present progressive)
    I'm going to spend my holiday sailing. (future)
    I would have been embarassed telling her that. (Past conditional)
    ... etc.
    Last edited by Raymott; 18-Feb-2011 at 17:14.

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    #5

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It's common and natural to use an ing-form of the verb to explain the 'verbal background' of something. Examples:

    b
    Thanks for the explanation and examples. I, however, still have several questions.

    1. What do you mean 'verbal' in 'verbal background'? Only used in spoken
    language?
    2. I wonder if this kind of sentences or usage has something to do with combining sentences or ellipsis? For example, 'She broke her leg
    tripping over one of her cats.' may be derived from the following sentences:

    a.She broke her leg because of tripping over one of her cats.
    b.She broke her leg because she tripped over one of her cats.
    c.She tripped over one of her cats. She broke her leg.
    d. She tripped over one of her cats (and she) broke her leg.

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    #6

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    PS There is another sort of case, involving verbs that connote 'spending time':

    • He whiled away the time doing a crossword.
    • ...


    In these cases the V-ing explains the main verb; in my first answer, the main verb just provided a background.

    b
    I wonder if I can insert 'by' in front of 'doing a crossword?' That is, 'He whiled away the time by doing a crossword.' However, in spoken language, you leave out 'by'. Is that so?
    Last edited by simplebeing; 20-Feb-2011 at 09:10.

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    #7

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    And to give sentences analogous to the OP's, the following are also correct in the right context:

    You can use it in any tense:
    I earn my living slaving over a hot stove. (present habitual)
    I'm becoming bored listening to you. (present progressive)
    I'm going to spend my holiday sailing. (future)
    I would have been embarassed telling her that. (Past conditional)
    ... etc.
    Thanks for your examples, Raymott. I also wonder if the same situation could be applied in your sentences, meaning that the ellipsis is used.

    I earn my living (by) slaving over a hot stove.
    I'm becoming bored (with) listening to you.
    I'm going to spend my holiday (on) sailing.

    As for the last one, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary online only shows 'embarrassed to do sth'. Then, I assume that you used 'embarrassed telling' instead of 'embarrassed to tell'. Is that so?

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    #8

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by simplebeing View Post
    Thanks for the explanation and examples. I, however, still have several questions.

    1. What do you mean 'verbal' in 'verbal background'? Only used in spoken
    language?
    I didn't mean that, though it may also be true. I meant that the V-ing provides the background to the finite verb,
    Quote Originally Posted by simplebeing View Post
    2. I wonder if this kind of sentences or usage has something to do with combining sentences or ellipsis? For example, 'She broke her leg
    tripping over one of her cats.' may be derived from the following sentences:

    a.She broke her leg because of tripping over one of her cats.
    b.She broke her leg because she tripped over one of her cats.
    c.She tripped over one of her cats. She broke her leg.
    d. She tripped over one of her cats (and she) broke her leg.
    Sounds possible. But a native speaker isn't conscious of ellipsis; they can be made conscious of it though:

    'It's not my fault my shoes are muddy mum - it happened walking across the field.'
    'It happened because you walked across the field.'

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 20-Feb-2011 at 13:51. Reason: Oops - got the verbs mixed up

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    #9

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by simplebeing View Post
    Thanks for your examples, Raymott. I also wonder if the same situation could be applied in your sentences, meaning that the ellipsis is used.

    I earn my living (by) slaving over a hot stove.
    I'm becoming bored (with) listening to you.
    I'm going to spend my holiday (on) sailing.
    Yes, just as you could write, "It turned out shed broken her leg by/while tripping over one of her cats"

    As for the last one, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary online only shows 'embarrassed to do sth'. Then, I assume that you used 'embarrassed telling' instead of 'embarrassed to tell'. Is that so?
    No, I didn't use it instead of anything. I used it as an example of what you'd written.
    They mean the same thing though.
    R.

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    #10

    Re: ...shed broken her leg tripping over...

    Quote Originally Posted by simplebeing View Post
    I wonder if I can insert 'by' in front of 'doing a crossword?' That is, 'He whiled away the time by doing a crossword.' However, in spoken language, you leave out 'by'. Is that so?
    I am not a teacher.

    I think "whiled away" requires "by" or "in" in speech and writing, as does "passed". "Spent" would not: "He spent the time doing a crossword."

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