A small box, also made of ivory, containing tiny combs ....

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

1a. Next to the doll was a small box, also made of ivory, containing tiny combs and a silver mirror. (Korea university entrance exam)

I think that becase of two participial phrase : 'also made of ivory' and 'containing tiny combs and a silver mirror', there is an inversion between 'next to the doll' and 'a small box'. Then I think that this sentence is rephrased as follows.

1b. A small box, also made of ivory, containing tiny combs and a silver mirror, was next to the doll.

Question : Like 1b, can several participial phrases successively modify one noun or pronoun through using several commas?
(A noun, participial phrase, participial phrase, ..., verb +...) Is this pattern possible?

Thank you always~.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You can have indefinitely many modifiers after a noun, but the more you have, the more favoured is the inversion structure, because all you have to keep in memory is:

    Next to the doll was . . .

    and then you carry on to your heart's content piling up modifiers. In non-inverted order, you have to remember that this subject needs a predicate, but the predicate gets further and further away:

    A small doll, . . . [. . . . . .], was . . .

    This is harder to process for both speaker/writer and hearer/reader. Inverted order is 'right-branching': it's linear, and just adds new material to the end. Non-inverted adds to the middle of the subject–predicate structure.
     
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