[Grammar] Complex sentences

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red an' dead

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Hello,

'At the beginning of the week he looked cheerful, but having bumped into him on
Wednesday, he looked depressed.' I have a couple of questions concerning this sentence. Firstly,
is it an acceptable example of a non-restrictive statement? You know, where 'but...depressed'
merely adds additional information about the subject (he), as opposed to that information being used
to define him.
Secondly, what is the best way to represent the main statement above? I have used quotation marks
but it's not a direct quotation is it?. Would it come down to an individual's personal choice: whether they wanted
to use italics or boldface, or whatever?
On reflection though, it probably does count as a quotation! But I'm not sure really.
 

Barb_D

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The sentence has some problems. While any native speaker would understand that "he" and "him" referred to the same person, grammatically, it doesn't work that way. The "but having bumped ..." part should modify the same person who is "he" in the first part of the sentence.

At the beginning of the week, Joe looked cheerful, but having bumped into Roger on Wednesday [and learning that Roger had gotten the promotion he wanted], Joe looked depressed.

I expect you mean for it mean "At the beginning of the week, he looked cheerful, but when I bumped into him on Wednesday, he looked depressed." Here the "he" and "him" (and last "he") all refer to the same unnamed male.

I suggest you use quotation marks to set off the sentence you want to ask about.
 

emsr2d2

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As Barb said, the original is ambiguous. In addition, I would not put the first comma before "but". I would put it after "but". However, I would be more likely to alter the whole sentence slightly.

At the beginning of the week Joe looked cheerful but on/by Wednesday, when I bumped into him, he looked depressed.
 

red an' dead

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Thanks for the reply, and I agree the sentence looks a bit wonky looking. I sort of got caught in two minds about what I wanted to say. As for being concerned about me asking you about second conditionals, well don't worry about that - I wouldn't recognize one of those if I tripped over one.
 

red an' dead

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Thanks for the reply. I agree now that my sentence is a tad too loose, or ambigious, as you say.
 

red an' dead

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'....looks a bit wonky looking.' Sorry about that
 

Rover_KE

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red an' dead, please note that if you want to add a sentence to your last post you can use the Edit Post feature.

Rover
 

red an' dead

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Hello Barb,
having re-read your reply, I'm not sure I agree, or even understand, your assessment. I wrote that sentence
in very general terms and without intending to be specific. It's a bit like I had simply taken it from the
middle of some paragraph, and where 'Joe' (as in 'him') already accounted for contextually. With that in mind,
and with all due respect, I feel it would take an awful of persuasion to convince me the sentence is flawed.
However, you're welcome to try. What I don't get - at all - is what you say about 'him' having to be modified.
 

Raymott

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Hello Barb,
having re-read your reply, I'm not sure I agree, or even understand, your assessment. I wrote that sentence
in very general terms and without intending to be specific. It's a bit like I had simply taken it from the
middle of some paragraph, and where 'Joe' (as in 'him') already accounted for contextually. With that in mind,
and with all due respect, I feel it would take an awful of persuasion to convince me the sentence is flawed.
However, you're welcome to try. What I don't get - at all - is what you say about 'him' having to be modified.
Barb is right. The sentence is definitely flawed. You won't get any of the regular teachers here saying otherwise, I believe.
"Having bumped into him on Wednesday, he looked depressed." In this sentence, 'him' and 'he' cannot refer to the same person. 'He' has to be the person who bumped into 'him'. It would only make sense if he bumped into himself.

Also, we're not here to make exhaustive efforts to persuade someone of something. We can explain things, but generally have no interest in forcing you to believe it.
 
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red an' dead

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Hello Raymott,

It was never my intention to have Barb spend all day and night to try and explain things to me. I never thought beyond her sending me a brief explanation.

How about had I written, When I saw him at the beginning of the week he looked cheerful, but having bumped into him on Wednesday, he looked depressed? I mean is there really so much different between that sentence and my original? That's mostly my point. Is there anyone out there, moderator or otherwise, who agrees with me? That would be nice!
 
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Raymott

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Hello Raymott,

It was never my intention to have Barb spend all day and night to try and explain things to me. I never thought beyond her sending me a brief explanation.

How about had I written, When I saw him at the beginning of the week he looked cheerful, but having bumped into him on Wednesday, he looked depressed? I mean is there really so much difference between that sentence and my original? That's mostly my point. Is there anyone out there, moderator or otherwise, who agrees with me? That would be nice!
I'd accept that sentence as being functional. I probably wouldn't notice the grammatical error under normal circumstances, but neither would I write it. I assume from my post above that you have realised what the nature of the error is?
"By adding 'I' at the beginning, the ungrammaticality becomes less obvious." This seems OK to me.
* "Having added 'I' at the beginning, the ungrammaticality becomes less obvious." This is wrong. The ungrammaticality didn't add the 'I'.

What is grammatically acceptable in these sentences may be changing and may be regional. I'm not an expert on this point, but I maintain that your original sentence is wrong. If someone wants to explain why it's correct that'll be fine.
I can't accept your principle that just because there's only a small difference between two sentences, they must have the same grammatical value. This would be too easy to refute.
 

5jj

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I'm not an expert on this point, but I maintain that your original sentence is wrong.
:up:
I can't accept your principle that just because there's only a small difference between two sentences, they must have the same grammatical value
:up:
read an' dead said:
Is there anyone out there, moderator or otherwise, who agrees with me?
Not me, I'm afraid.
 

red an' dead

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Barb is right. The sentence is definitely flawed. You won't get any of the regular teachers here saying otherwise, I believe.
"Having bumped into him on Wednesday, he looked depressed." In this sentence, 'him' and 'he' cannot refer to the same person. 'He' has to be the person who bumped into 'him'. It would only make sense if he bumped into himself.

I'm not trying to be funny, but could you tell me why 'him' and 'he' cannot refer to the same person? I appreciate you're probably fed up with me, and if neither yourself nor anyone else is interested, well, we can all call it quits. I appreciate I'm no grammarian, but nevertheless; I'd be happy enough to put money that I'm right. In fact, I'd put a lot of money on it. There's confidence for you!

 

5jj

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I'm not trying to be funny, but could you tell me why 'him' and 'he' cannot refer to the same person?
In a sentence starting 'having bumped into him on Thursday, X ....' the expectation in English is that X will be the person who did the bumping.
I'd be happy enough to put money that I'm right. In fact, I'd put a lot of money on it. There's confidence for you!
For a native speaker of Tigrinya to feel so confident in feeling that they are right and three British and one Australian teachers and an American writer are wrong does indeed show a degree of something - "confidence" is not the word that springs to my mind.
 
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5jj

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For a native speaker of Tigrinya to feel so confident in feeling that they are right and three British and one Australian teachers and an American writer are wrong ...
Ugh! That does look ugly, probably because of the "one Australian teachers" and/or "an American writer are" bits. It would probably be better as "one American writer, one Australian and three British teachers are wrong". No; that suggests that the Australian might not be a teacher. Let's try again: "One Australian teacher, one American writer and three British teachers are ...". That appears to work (apart from the two teachers), though putting the colonials before the real English speakers appears to be against the laws of nature. I'll have to think about this.
 

Barb_D

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The problem is not contained within the second part of the sentence. Indeed, in "having bumped into him, he looked depressed" the "him" and "he" can refer to the same person. The problem is that all of that requires a person who did the "bumping into" and in your original sentence, the only person you've given us who can bump into someone is the first "he." Now, since he can't bump into himself, the "him" who was bumped into must be another person, and now the "he" is ambigous - does it it refer to the person doing the bumping, or the person being bumped into.

Again:
Bob looked cheerful on Monday, but {Bob} having bumped into him [WHO??] on Wednesday Bob was depressed.

When you revised the sentence with "I" as the original subject, you allow "I" to be the person who bumps into Bob. Now it's okay. (More or less.)
I thought Bob looked cheerful on Monday, but {I} having bumped into him on Wednesday, {I} thought he {Bob} looked deppressed.

I have no desire to try to convince you. You either accept the original sentence was grammatically flawed (even though as I said from the beginning, a native speaker would understand what the intended meaning was) or you don't.
 

red an' dead

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I can't accept your principle that just because there's only a small difference between two sentences said:
I agree with that 100% - my mistake!
On the other hand, I did mention that my original quote would possibly be more comprehensible in a contextual setting. For example, Oh, he's so mercurial, he changes all the time. At the beginning of the week he was quite cheerful, but having bumped into him.... Still, I can see how such a piece could easily be viewed as ambiguous. Yeah, When I saw him at the beginning .... is, I have to concede, clearer.
 
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red an' dead

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For a native speaker of Tigrinya to feel so confident in feeling that they are right and three British and one Australian teachers and an American writer are wrong does indeed show a degree of something - "confidence" is not the word that springs to my mind.
Well, I don't know, but it's been my experience that, generally, if somebody is prepared to put money on something, confidence, or at least a degree of it, is pretty much a prerequisit.
 

red an' dead

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The problem is not contained within the second part of the sentence. Indeed, in "having bumped into him, he looked depressed" the "him" and "he" can refer to the same person. The problem is that all of that requires a person who did the "bumping into" and in your original sentence, the only person you've given us who can bump into someone is the first "he." Now, since he can't bump into himself, the "him" who was bumped into must be another person, and now the "he" is ambigous - does it it refer to the person doing the bumping, or the person being bumped into.

Again:
Bob looked cheerful on Monday, but {Bob} having bumped into him [WHO??] on Wednesday Bob was depressed.

When you revised the sentence with "I" as the original subject, you allow "I" to be the person who bumps into Bob. Now it's okay. (More or less.)
I thought Bob looked cheerful on Monday, but {I} having bumped into him on Wednesday, {I} thought he {Bob} looked deppressed.

I have no desire to try to convince you. You either accept the original sentence was grammatically flawed (even though as I said from the beginning, a native speaker would understand what the intended meaning was) or you don't.

See my reply to Raymott.
 
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