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by doing so /in doing so /on doing so

Discussion in 'English Only' started by snooprun, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    Morning everyone:

    Could you tell me how to distinguish by doing so and in doing so which is really troublesome. Following are some examples quoted:

    1. In all the circumstances, we have decided that we will each wear a black armband for the duration of the World Cup. In doing so we are mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe.

    2. In this book, Jack and Annie must go and save Venice, Italy from a flood disaster, and by doing so prove to Merlin that they know how to use magic wisely.

    3. An approaching mid-level trough caused the system to accelerate northeastward across Florida Panhandle, though upon(on) doing so the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.

    Cheers
     
  2. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    1. In doing so can be replaced by when we do this or in the process.
    2. By doing so can be replaced by as a result of doing this.
    3. On doing so can be replaced by when/after it did this (I find this an odd sentence).

    The relevant phrases are "in doing so", "as a result of doing so", "by virtue of doing so", "after doing so" etc.

    I hope this helps.

     
  3. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I don't think it's necessary to be mystified by 'doing so' because it has no meaning in itself; it simply refers back to something which has been mentioned earlier:
    In doing so, we are mourning the death of democracy = In wearing black armbands, we are mourning the death of democracy.

    By doing so, Jack and Annie prove to Merlin that they know how to use magic wisely = By saving Venice from a flood disaster, Jack and Annie prove to Merlin that they know how to use magic wisely.

    Upon doing so, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished = Upon causing the system to accelerate northeastward across Florida Panhandle, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.
    So what it boils down to is to understand the use of the preposition in each case.
     
  4. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    Thanks you two for the desired responses. As EStjarn has said, it boils down to understand the use of the preposition, so can you tell me the use of upon in this sentence——Upon doing so, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished = Upon causing the system to accelerate northeastward across Florida Panhandle, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished. is it amount to when? Thanks!
     
  5. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    This says that the thunderstorm activity was the cause (causing refers to activity), which is not the case. The cause was the acceleration NE (or, to go back further, the acceleration NE caused by the trough). The meaning is "when/after the acceleration occurred" and the sentence above would have to be rewritten, e.g. "As a result of the acceleration of the system northeastward, the thunderstorm activity......" or the somewhat clumsy "On the system being caused to accelerate NE". Altternatively, you could replace "Upon doing so" with "On this happening" (=after this happened).


     
  6. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    Thanks e2efour! I have one last question. Take 'In doing so, we are mourning the death of democracy = In wearing black armbands, we are mourning the death of democracy.'

    'By doing so, Jack and Annie prove to Merlin that they know how to use magic wisely = By saving Venice from a flood disaster, Jack and Annie prove to Merlin that they know how to use magic wisely.',
    should the subjects that followed 'by doing so and in doing so' be a person while 'upon doing so' could be both person or impersonal things?
     
  7. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    The original sentence and its context can be found here. It's about Tropical Storm Arthur (2002):

    Actually, I think in this particular case, it doesn't matter whether we understand it was 'upon the causing of the system's accelerating' or 'upon the accelerating of the system' that the thunderstorm activity diminished, because in both cases we're referring to a sequence of events. In a simplified version of the sentence, no matter which one of those alternatives we use, we will end up with a dangling modifier since neither the trough nor the system is the thunderstorm activity:
    Upon doing so, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.
    Upon accelerating northeastward across Florida Panhandle, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.
    Upon causing the system to accelerate northeastward across Florida Panhandle, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.
    Providing we know the context, none of the above sentences - though each one ungrammatical in itself (since the subject of the main clause is different from the subject of the modifying phrase) - should cause misunderstanding. The advice still holds, there's no need to be confused by 'doing so' because its meaning is deduced from the preceding text.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  8. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    It might takes me some time to understand this at length, but many thanks all the same EStjarn.
     
  9. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    As far as I know, the choice of preposition has nothing to do with whether we're referring to people or to things.

    A preposition is a word (or a phrase) which puts concept A in a particular relation to concept B. In the previous post, the concept A is 'the thunderstorm activity'; upon is the preposition; and concept B is (as I understand it) 'the trough's causing the system to accelerate'. As e2efour says, upon means after here:
    The thunderstorm activity quickly diminished after the trough's causing the system to accelerate.
    After the trough's causing the system to accelerate, the thunderstorm activity quickly diminished.
    (You've chosen a rather tricky example for illustrating the use of 'upon'. :))
     
  10. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    '(You've chosen a rather tricky example for illustrating the use of 'upon'. :))' Thanks EStjarn, I guess I did. Next time I should be more prudent. Best
     
  11. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    1. Wearing the black armbands is in essence the same as mourning the death of democracy (the armbands are the outward expression).

    2. Saving Venice is the means by which they will prove their knowledge to Merlin.

    3. (This sentence is a little confusing to me, since what accelerated and diminished doesn't seem entirely clear. I think the word "storm" has to be placed before "system," and that would make it right.) The storm activity diminished when the system accelerated northeastward.
     
  12. snooprun

    snooprun Senior Member

    China
    Chinese
    Thanks Parla, I will hereafter try to use this expression correctly.
     
  13. The Lord of Gluttony Senior Member

    Earth
    Turkish
    On doing so can be replaced by upon doing so?
     
  14. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    Hello Lord

    Here's how I see it: If the events happen nearly simultaneously, I'd be reluctant to use 'upon', which to me implies that there is a clear succession of events. Other than that, I believe they are interchangeable.

    (For a more specific answer I'd recommend providing an example sentence.)
     

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