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  1. VIP Member
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    #1

    Bob stood before the mirror

    I am wondering if my sentences sound natural. Would you please correct my mistakes?

    Bob stood before the mirror, preening himself. He carefully parted his sparse blond hair in the middle, brushed his moustache, and adjusted the tie knot around his neck.

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    #2

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    I'd end with '... and adjusted the knot of his tie around his neck' (it wouldn't be anywhere else).

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    #3

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    I would remove the comma after "mirror" and write "adjusted the knot of his tie"
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

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    #4

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    The comma after 'mirror' is mandatory, ted.

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    #5

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    The comma after 'mirror' is mandatory, ted.
    Why is the comma mandatory?
    I thought it's optional and the sentence sounds better without it. It is a short sentence which can do without the comma, and the meaning remains clear.
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    Without the comma, I think 'preening' could modify 'mirror'.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Without the comma, I think 'preening' could modify 'mirror'.
    That is if one is inclined to be pedantic.
    Would anyone interpret the sentence that way?
    Mirror preening himself?
    Last edited by tedmc; 10-Mar-2017 at 13:52.
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    I wouldn't want to say that a comma is mandatory, but I would say the sentence is better with one.

  9. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    The following comments were about whether a comma was needed before a present participle modifying a (pro)noun.
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    in many uses, commas are a matter of individual preference.
    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    there is no universal agreement on this.
    I am not a teacher.

  10. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Bob stood before the mirror

    I'd use "in front of", not "before" in this context. I would use the comma with the word order given but I wouldn't use one with a different word order.

    Bob stood in front of the mirror, preening himself.
    Bob stood preening himself in front of the mirror.

    "Preening" is an unusual word here though. Birds preen themselves. What exactly is Bob doing?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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