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    #1

    The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    I have re-read a thread:

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...articiple.html

    This thread reminds me of something, maybe a little different from what is discussed in the thread above.

    In Modern English grammar, a relative clause can often be replaced by a participle clause without a change in meaning, like Anyone wanting(= who wants to)watch the game must pay$200.

    But when I was in secondary school (by the way, in Hong Kong, senior secondary school should be the equivalent of high school in America), I was told that if the verb of the relative clause is in the perfect tense (sorry I am not sure whether there is a distinction in this case for the present perfect and the past perfect), we cannot turn it into a participle clause simply, which has been substantiated by two native English speakers and Michael Swan, who is author of Practical English Usage. However, this morning I found something of interest; in 'The Plan of an English Dictionary', by 18-century lexicographer Samuel Johnson, is a sentence:

    Words having been hitherto considered as separate and unconnected, are now to be
    likewise examined as they are ranged in their various relations to others by the
    rules of syntax or construction, to which I do not know that any regard has been
    yet shown in English dictionaries, and in which the grammarians can give little
    assistance.


    Johnson's Plan of an English Dictionary

    Obviously this sentence means: Words which have been... are now to be....
    I believe if what I knew was true, what S. Johnson says in the above is in Early Modern English and very often such a sentence structure at that time cannot be explained by contemporary English rules, but I still hope to know why such a type of sentence is no longer used, and I hope this question is not among those 'often' occasions.

    PS That sentence cannot be rewritten as Words, having been..., are now...., because the original sentence, though with a comma, contains a restrictive relative clause.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    I don't particularly like that sentence. However, unlike some people, I think it's a possible English construction,
    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Words having been hitherto considered as separate and unconnected, are now to be likewise examined [...]
    I consider that to be incorrectly punctuated. If Johnson plans to examine only words that have so far been considered as separate and unconnected, then there should be no comma after 'unconnected'.
    Last edited by 5jj; 22-Nov-2012 at 11:29. Reason: format tidied.

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    #3

    Re: The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    [QUOTE=5jj;942647]The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    I don't particularly like that sentence. However, unlike some people, I think it's a possible English construction,
    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Words having been hitherto considered as separate and unconnected, are now to be likewise examined [...] I consider that to be incorrectly punctuated. If Johnson plans to exsmine only words that have so far been considered as separate and unconnected, then there should be no comma after 'unconnected'.
    Thank you very much for your answer. But Samuel Johnson's punctuation is correct, no offence.

    In Modern or Early Modern English, between the subject and the predicate, there shouldn't be a comma, whereas in Modern Chinese the lack of it will make the reader pant, and if anyone wants to know more, Wiki makes a good companion. However, grammar books, from my experience, seldom mention one commonly practised rule: when the subject is extremely long, or considered so by the writer, the writer can add a comma immediately after the relative clause, while it is still restrictive. It is not usual in contemporary English but 18th or 19th century English because sentences produced at that time tend to be longer than nowadays.

    Is that anyone who has an opinion on my original question?

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    #4

    Re: The dog having bitten the postman, the farmer decided to shoot it.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Thank you very much for your answer. But Samuel Johnson's punctuation is correct, no offence.
    Johnson's sentence is not incorrectly punctuated. It may or may not have been acceptable in his day - I am not an expert on what was acceptable in the eighteenth century. It is not helpful, in my opinion, to suggest that it is correct today.

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