Grammar

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jiang

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Dear teachers,
I came across a sentence:

He sacrificed his life trying to save the child.

As far as I know sacrifice can only be followed by nouns and infinitives. Could you please tell me what this trying is? Should the sentence be He sacrificed his life in trying to save the child ? If it is trying is the object of preposition in. If it is not should it be Trying to save the child he sacrificed his life ? If it is trying is a participle. Am I right? I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you in advance.

Jiang
 

MikeNewYork

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jiang said:
Dear teachers,
I came across a sentence:

He sacrificed his life trying to save the child.

As far as I know sacrifice can only be followed by nouns and infinitives. Could you please tell me what this trying is? Should the sentence be He sacrificed his life in trying to save the child ? If it is trying is the object of preposition in. If it is not should it be Trying to save the child he sacrificed his life ? If it is trying is a participle. Am I right? I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you in advance.

Jiang

In this sentence the word "trying" is a participle and "trying to save the child" is a participial phrase. This participial phrase is a modifier, but in my view, one could make the case that it is an adjective (modifying "he") or an adverb (modifying "sacrificed"). In most cases, adjectival participial phrases are properly positioned directly next to the nouns they mofify. This practice reduces confusion. However, there is no confusion in this sentence even if the phrase is adjectival. Your rephrasing is also correct.

If one makes "trying" the object of a preposition, "trying" then becomes a gerund, functioning as a noun.
 
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