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    #1

    State, Or Change In State

    Suppose a there is a room that has 1) a box covered with a towel, and 2) a column with rope coiled around the column. Then a guy walked into the room:


    1. "He walked in and saw a towel covering a box."
    2. "He walked in and saw rope coiling around a column."

    It seems that in sentence 1, "covering" does NOT refer to the box changing from the state of not having a towel over it, to the state of having a towel over it. Instead, "covering" seems to refers exclusively to just the state of the box having a towel over it.

    Yet in sentence 2, "coiling" could refer to the column changing from the state of not having rope coiled around it, to the state of having rope coiled around it. Or "coiling" could also refer to just the state of having rope coiled around the column.

    It seems that in sentence 1, "covering" refers to a state. And in sentence 2, "coiling" could refer to either a change in state, or just the state. What do native speakers think?

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: State, Or Change In State

    Both ...ing's can refer to either a steady state or a change of state.

    1. "He walked in and saw a towel covering a box."
    He walked in and saw someone covering a box with a towel.
    2. "He walked in and saw rope coiling around a column."
    He walked in and saw someone coiling a rope around a column.

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    #3

    Re: State, Or Change In State

    @probus

    So, both are poorly written?

  2. probus's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: State, Or Change In State

    Not at all. Both your examples are perfectly natural. The correct meaning in any case will always be clear from the context.

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    #5

    Re: State, Or Change In State

    @probus

    But do you think that, in sentence 1, "covering" likely refers to a state alone, and that in sentence 2, "coiling" likely refers to a state change?

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    #6

    Re: State, Or Change In State

    I think the sentences are more natural written as follows:

    1. He walked in and saw a box covered with a towel.

    2. He walked in and saw a column coiled around with a rope.

    There is no doubt about the state of the box and the column.
    I am not a teacher.

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