before they <are gasping for air / gasp for air>

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dadawa

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

The following sentences are from New Concept English Volume 2 Lesson 94:


Some children can cover the whole length of the pool without coming up for breath even once. Whether they will ever become future Olympic champions, only time will tell. Meanwhile, they should encourage those among us who cannot swim five yards before they are gasping for air.


My question is, is "are gasping" the only one correct tense here? Can we use "gasp" instead of "are gasping"? If yes, do they differ in meaning?

Thank you in advance for every response.
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Actually, dadawa, I think it should be "...those among us who cannot swim five yards before gasping for air. "Before gasping for air" is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb "swim," whose subject is "us." "They" cannot refer to "us."
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Cyberpedant's suggestion is excellent, and really makes a stronger sentence.

    But just to be pedantic, I'll mention that "they" does not refer to "us"; instead its antecedent is "those (of us)."
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Actually, dadawa, I think it should be "...those among us who cannot swim five yards before gasping for air. "Before gasping for air" is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb "swim," whose subject is "us." "They" cannot refer to "us."
    It doesn't refer to "us." It refers to "those," which "among us" modifies. Perfectly correct grammar as far as I can see.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Thanks lucas and MQ. Thus, "they should encourage those among us who cannot swim five yards before they are gasping for air" is a noun clause object of the verb "encourage." "Those" is the subject of the noun clause; "among us" is a prepositional phrase modifying "those;" "who cannot swim five yards before gasping for air " is a relative clause modifying "us."
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    "Who" is also linked up to "those": "those who cannot swim five yards before they gasp for air." Both "among us" and "who cannot swim..." are phrases modifying "those."
     

    Baltic Sea

    Banned
    Polish
    Meanwhile, they should encourage those among us who cannot swim five yards before they are gasping for air.

    Does the part in bold type mean that "before getting tired, we cannot even cover five yards"?

    Thank you.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi,

    The following sentences are from New Concept English Volume 2 Lesson 94:


    Some children can cover the whole length of the pool without coming up for breath even once. Whether they will ever become future Olympic champions, only time will tell. Meanwhile, they should encourage those among us who cannot swim five yards before they are gasping for air.


    My question is, is "are gasping" the only one correct tense here? Can we use "gasp" instead of "are gasping"? If yes, do they differ in meaning?

    Thank you in advance for every response.
    I agree with MuttQuad: yes, you can use "gasp" instead of "are gasping".
    Meanwhile, they should encourage those among us who cannot swim five yards before they are gasping for air.

    Does the part in bold type mean that "before getting tired, we cannot even cover five yards"?

    Thank you.
    Yes, more or less....
     
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