comma before present participle [meaning?]: She sings standing by the

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

I want to know what difference is there in the following sentences.


1. She sings standing by the window. 2. She sings, standing by the window.


a. He stands singing by the window. b. He stands, singing by the window.



Thank you in advance.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    These sentences mean the same thing to me, Jullianus, but the placement of your comma seems a little odd.

    I usually place a subject pronoun after the comma in this type of sentence: Running toward the house, he shouted goodbye to his friends.
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hou about this?

    He shouted goodbye to his friends, running toward the house.

    And

    I have read somewhere that when participial phrase come after main clause and comma is used before participial phrase, comma means emphasis. (This is uncertain.)

    If so be that, don't my sentence(especially comma for emphasis) make sense?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I understand that version, Jullianus, but it's harder to read and could confuse some people. It's usually safer to keep these participial phrases next to the word they modify. In this sentence "running toward the house" modifies "he".

    I'm sorry, but I've never heard this idea of "emphasis" before, so I really can't say anything useful about it. To me, participial phrases like the ones in our sentences are used to provide some description about a noun or a pronoun.
     

    Giorgia X

    Member
    Italian
    Hou about this?

    He shouted goodbye to his friends, running toward the house.

    And

    I have read somewhere that when participial phrase come after main clause and comma is used before participial phrase, comma means emphasis. (This is uncertain.)

    If so be that, don't my sentence(especially comma for emphasis) make sense?
    Hi Julian, hi everyone,
    in my opinione the way the sentences are written, don't need a comma.However, If you wish to usa a comma, you'l have to rephrase them. Es: Running towards the house, he shouted goodby to his friends.Have a nice day.:)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The comma in these examples indicates an intonation: the part before it is enough for a complete sentence, so the part after the comma can be dropped. So the versions with the comma imply:

    (i) She sings.
    (ii) He stands.
    (iii) He shouted goodbye to his friends.

    (i) is okay if it means her habit, and (iii) is okay, but you wouldn't say (ii), so you also wouldn't say (ii) with something non-essential added to it. Without the comma, it's okay because it explains how he habitually stands: He stands singing by the window.

    In each example, the participle is a verb and needs a subject. In the first two there is only one person the subject can be, so that's not a problem. In the third, it can be either he or his friends who is running. Without a comma, 'running' would pick up its subject from the nearest noun phrase - 'his friends' - and in fact would be part of this noun phrase. The comma separates these. It allows it to get its subject from something further off.

    He shouted goodbye to his friends running towards the house. [his friends are running]
    He shouted goodbye to his friends, running towards the house. [he is running - more likely, anyway]
     

    Giorgia X

    Member
    Italian
    Thanks Entangledbank, it was very useful to me; I've learnt something new. What I've also learnt is that the wrong comma can change the meaning of the sentence and get get you into trouble. Isn't so?
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Hello. The following is from Oxford Learner's Dictionaries Online:

    "She sat at the table in silence, picking at her dinner."

    This sentence can be changed to the one below:

    "Sitting at the table in silence, she picked at her dinner."

    Participle phrases describe events occuring in parallel and also show cause-effect relationship. What I wonder is, how would changing the original to the one below affect the impact of the original on readers? Imagine you are writing a novel in which you need to portray this scene. Which one would you pick up and why?

    "She sat at the table in silence, and she picked at her dinner."
     
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