but being a law-abiding fellow

The driver agreed, but being a law-abiding fellow, didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

but is a conjunction, shouldn't it be followed by a sentence instead of a V-ing phrase? A phrase doesn't need a conjunction, right?

I am always confused with such a structure. Could you explain the structure?

Many many thanks in advance!
 
  • Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Here's my explanation. The "but" here only makes sense if there was a prior discussion about the need to go fast, which by the first three words of the sentence, seems to have happened. The driver agreed [with that need], BUT did not act on it. I think the right punctuation would be:

    The driver agreed, but, being a law-abiding fellow, did not do more ..."
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    The driver agreed, but being a law-abiding fellow, didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    but is a conjunction, shouldn't it be followed by a sentence instead of a V-ing phrase? A phrase doesn't need a conjunction, right?

    I am always confused with such a structure. Could you explain the structure?

    Many many thanks in advance!
    I wouldn't put the comma after the but. I think the real issue is that the original sentence has an elided he before didn't.

    The driver agreed, but being a law-abiding fellow, he didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    You could write the original full sentence in two sentences:

    The driver agreed. Being a law-abiding fellow, he didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    As you can see, the phrase in red is a participial phrase modifying he which refers back to the driver. The 'but' is simply connecting the two independent clauses.

    I could also replace the word 'being' with the beginning of a 'because' clause like this:

    The driver agreeed, butbecause he was a law-abiding fellow, he didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    Orange Blossom
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Part of the comma/clause convention is that the clause contained within the commas should be able to be removed from the sentence and the sentence should still flow.

    The driver agreed but, being a law-abiding fellow, didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    This still makes sense with the clause removed.
    The driver agreed but didn't do more than 70 miles per hour on the motorway.

    .,,
     
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