comma before present participle / adjective phrase: laughed, lost in

Discussion in 'English Only' started by DiDay, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. DiDay New Member

    Russian
    Dear friends, =)

    Why are these two commas put in this sentence??? What`s the constructions?

    He could imagine lying beside her in bed at the end of the day (,) holding her while they talked and laughed (,) lost in each other`s arms.

    Thank you for the help, guys))))
     
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Well the first one separates the 'holding' clause from the closest possible referent. Without that comma, it would be natural to read it as a construction 'her in X doing Y', that is she is in X and she is doing Y. For example:

    He imagined her in bed tossing and turning.

    With the comma, this reading is less likely - the separation is a sign that the 'doing Y' goes with something even earlier in the sentence ('he'). I don't think you strictly need this comma, but it makes the sentence easier to read in its correct meaning.

    The second comma is obligatory, but it's harder to say why. I suppose without it you'd get 'laughed lost' together - 'lost in each other's arms' was the way they laughed, which makes no sense. So the comma separates those, and again it is a sign that the 'lost' phrase refers to something earlier. It relates to 'they', not really to their talking and laughing.
     
  3. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Please tell us the source of your quotation. Thank you.
     
  4. DiDay New Member

    Russian
    entangledbank, thank you so much for the help!!!!)))

    Copyright, sure. =) It`s "Dear John" by Nicolas Sparks. I`m using it to learn the language.
     

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