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  1. keannu's Avatar
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    #1

    Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    I found a few materials on the internet about "participial phrase", and almost all of them say that the subject of "participial phrase" is the sentence subject, and if a participial phrase is used as a reduced relative clause, a comma should be deleted. So does the following content say a participial phrase can be used only as restrictive clause(1) or non-restrictive clause(3) as well?

    1.Harold invented his own god laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    :god which was laughing (reduced restrictive clause) - I can understand

    2.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : While Harold was laughing (participial phrase with the sentence subject)

    3.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : his own god, which(who) was laughing (reduced non-restrictive clause)

    I don't know if either 2 or 3 intepretation is possible and that should be determined by the context.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    • When a participial phrase is attached to the end of a sentence and it is modifying the last word of the sentence (a noun), it may be acting like a reduced relative clause as well. In this case, refer to the rules for restrictive and non-restrictive clauses for punctuation.
    Example: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    The question here is who is laughing maniacally. Punctuated as it is now, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud is a participial phrase that modifies Harold. However, it could be seen as a reduced relative clause that is modifying god. This relative clause is restrictive because laughing maniacally would specify what kind of god Harold had invented. Therefore, use no comma.
    • Harold invented his own god which was laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    • Harold invented his own god laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.

    Last edited by keannu; 16-Jul-2012 at 05:45.

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    #2

    Re: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    I think there's a good case for not reducing the clause to maintain clarity.

  2. keannu's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    You mean 3 can be confused with 2, so they will make 3 clear by saying " his own god, which(who) was laughing "?

    2.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : While Harold was laughing (participial phrase with the sentence subject)
    3.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : his own god, which(who) was laughing (reduced non-restrictive clause)

  3. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    Hello, keannu.
    I think Tdol pointed out that the "participial construction" should be avoided when the problem of potential ambiguity arises. I personally agree with your interpretation of #1 and #2. I'm not sure about #3.

  4. keannu's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    Okay 3 is kind of vague, anyway if 3 can exist as I've seen in numerous similar case, is the lable for 3 "reduced non-restrictive clause" not like participial phrase of 2? I have to explain to my other people.

    1.Harold invented his own god laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    :god which was laughing (reduced restrictive clause) - I can understand

    2.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : While Harold was laughing (participial phrase with the sentence subject)

    3.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : his own god, which(who) was laughing (reduced non-restrictive clause)

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Okay 3 is kind of vague, anyway if 3 can exist as I've seen in numerous similar case, is the lable for 3 "reduced non-restrictive clause" not like participial phrase of 2? I have to explain to my other people.

    1.Harold invented his own god laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    :god which was laughing (reduced restrictive clause) - I can understand

    2.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : While Harold was laughing (participial phrase with the sentence subject)

    3.Harold invented his own god, laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    : his own god, which(who) was laughing (reduced non-restrictive clause)
    I wouldn't use #1. I agree with you that the other sentence could be read to mean either 2 or 3. For clarity, I would say:

    - Harold invented his own god, while laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    - Harold invented his own god, who was laughing maniacally at the sight of a face in a cloud.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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