a fishing man or a man who was fishing

  • English - American
    "Fisherman" would change the meaning from a man who is fishing to a man who is known for fishing.

    "A fishing man" is technically correct, but is an uncommon arrangement.


    Senior Member
    So the best way is:

    I asked a man who was fishing where B.W. lived.


    It's just occurred to me. How about this:

    I asked a man fishing there where B.W. lived.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    For some reason the verb sounds very bad there. I would never say 'a fishing man'. Yet the structure is grammatically sound: a sleeping baby, a crying baby, a falling branch, a dying swan, a burning log. But we wouldn't talk about a :cross:skiing man, a :cross:playing child: my guess is that the disallowed ones are more or less organized human activities (compare playing with crying), but I can't see why that makes a grammatical difference.

    Note that in all these the noun is accented: a crying 'child, a burning 'log. If you use the gerundial noun (the name of activities such as skiing and fishing) you can use that noun as a modifier, but it gets the accent: a 'skiing instructor, a 'fishing expert. (A fishing expert is an expert on fishing, not an expert who is fishing.)


    Senior Member
    Thank you very much, entangledbank. I guess, in that sense the combination 'a dancing girl' can be understood differently, depending on which word you stress.