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Thread: The motorcycle coming toward me .., I rapidly .... [present participle phrase]

  1. #1
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    The motorcycle coming toward me .., I rapidly .... [present participle phrase]

    Are these sentences both correct:

    1-The motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.
    2-I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident, the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed.

    I don't use such sentences when I speak and put in a full clause (since the motorcyle was coming...)

    However I think both sentences are correct. I prefer "1" since it mentions the cause before the effect.

  2. #2
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    Re: present participle phrase

    I am afraid that both sentences are wrong.

    1-The motorcycle, coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.

    In this there should be a comma as shown in red. Once the comma is there, you can see that coming toward me at top speed is an adjectival phrase qualifying motorcycle.

    As this is the case, we can leave the phrase out. We now have,

    1-The motorcycle, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident. which makes no sense.

    What you meant to say was:
    1- Because The motorcycle was coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.

    or

    1- I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident because the motorcycle was coming toward me at top speed.

    or

    1- I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident that would have been caused by the motorcycle that was coming toward me at top speed,.
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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    Re: present participle phrase

    Or
    The motorcycle, coming toward me at top speed, didn't hit me because I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.
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    Re: present participle phrase

    Hi navi

    Unlike Paul, I'd see both sentences as technically correct: they're examples of "absolute" constructions (compare The show being over, we went home or The Queen having given her speech, the people applauded).

    However, absolute constructions are normally rather formal/literary. In a context like yours, I don't think an absolute construction would work.
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    Re: present participle phrase

    My two pennies' worth.
    Speaking of absolute constructions, the first clause in "Having noticed the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident." would be an example of a non-absolute construction and a participial phrase. Maybe it is worth to note that non-absolute constructions modify only the subject and not the whole situation in the main clause. I hope this sentence sounds better now.
    Last edited by wolfbm1; 21st October 2011 at 5:01 PM.
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    Re: present participle phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Loob View Post
    Hi navi

    Unlike Paul, I'd see both sentences as technically correct: they're examples of "absolute" constructions (compare The show being over, we went home or The Queen having given her speech, the people applauded)...
    This would have been my answer. Of course, your advice on the appropriateness of such intricate language in a normal conversation remains valid.

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    Re: present participle phrase

    I agree with Loob that Navi's sentences are technically correct, but I think that his absolute participial clause is too long and cumbersome to be idiomatic. I think that (1) would sound all right with a leading preposition "with":
    With the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.

    I disagree with wolfbm1 that the insertion of "Having noticed" renders the participial clause adjectival, qualifying "I". I would have said that in all cases the participial clause, absolute or otherwise, is adverbial. In Navi's examples, it is an adverb of reason, applied to the entire main clause: it explains WHY I rapidly moved aside. The acid test is how it would be expanded into a finite clause:

    wolfbm1's sentence means:
    Because I had noticed the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.

    and not:
    I, who had noticed the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.

    My noticing the motorcycle is not an incidental attribute of "I", but the whole reason for my moving aside.

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    Re: present participle phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pertinax View Post
    I think that (1) would sound all right with a leading preposition "with":
    With the motorcycle coming toward me at top speed, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.
    Yes, I like that variation, Pertinax - I could certainly say that.
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    Re: present participle phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pertinax View Post
    My noticing the motorcycle is not an incidental attribute of "I", but the whole reason for my moving aside.
    You are right. Thank you for correcting me. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.
    Adjectival participial phrase would be in this sentence:
    Frightened by the speeding motorcycle, I rapidly moved aside to avoid an accident.
    We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. Carl Sagan

  10. #10
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    Re: present participle phrase

    The original sounds like a translation from the Latin, but I'm of the camp which regards it as technically correct.

    I hate the With the motorcyle.... formulae as lazy. I'd be quite happy with Because the motorcylcle was coming at me at top speed I rapidly etc... That makes the chain of causation clear.

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