comma with shared object: involved in, and reacting, to the actions

renetta

Senior Member
Italy, Italian
Hi everybody,

I'm translating a text and I've come across this sentence, which doesn't make much sense to me.

"I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown".

Can anyone explain to me what it means? Do the commas are well-placed?

Thank you so much

Sorry!! "are the commas well-placed"
 
  • meganmilan

    Member
    New Zealand English
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown".


    The commas are misplaced. It should read:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown.
     

    lupei

    Senior Member
    Spain
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to the actions shown". I would have written it like this. Salu2
     

    shamblesuk

    Senior Member
    England, English
    No, I disagree. In full it would be:

    I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually (a) involved in, and (b) reacting to - the actions shown. Therefore the comma must come after to. They are 'involved in (the actions shown)', and 'reacting to (the actions shown)'.
     

    lupei

    Senior Member
    Spain
    ok, you are right. I understand what you mean. Is that a common expresion? Wouldn't it be easier:

    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in the actions shown, and reacting to them".

    thanks
     

    Panpan

    Senior Member
    England, English
    'to them' squints slightly. In this context it is clear that the characters are reacting to the actions, not reacting to the audience. It might be slightly confusing if you were talking about a live audience. It wouldn't be completely clear whether you meant the actors were reacting to the actions, or to the audience.

    Secondly, you would need to say 'are' twice, e.g. '...are actually involved..., and are reacting...'
    Panpan
     

    JasonNPato

    Senior Member
    USA-English
    renetta said:
    Hi everybody,

    I'm translating a text and I've come across this sentence, which doesn't make much sense to me.

    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown".

    Can anyone explain to me what it means? Do the commas are well-placed?

    Thank you so much

    If you want to be really "technical" about it, you would need to reword the sentence a bit in order to make the verbs parallel.

    Make them both the gerund:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involving themselves in (or are being involved in) and are reacting to the actions shown".

    or make them both infinitive:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen both get involved in and react to the actions shown"

    Actually, since the source of the problem lies in the difference in the "second-half" of your verbs (the "prepositional part" [it's actually not a preposition, it's a special kind of verb, but I don't remember the correct word]). but anyways, the problem is that they don't match.
    You have "are involved in" and "are reacting to"

    This makes it weird, because in order to be correct, you have to write both, and this makes the sentence appear confusing.

    So, what you really have to do is change the verbs so that they mean the same thing, but are "parallel". Since you can't correctly say "involved to" or "reacting in"...you may try:
    ...are both involved and reacting with the actions shown."

    This, I feel, is the best way to fix your problem.
    I hope I haven't confused things too horribly.
     

    JasonNPato

    Senior Member
    USA-English
    renetta said:
    Hi everybody,

    I'm translating a text and I've come across this sentence, which doesn't make much sense to me.

    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown".

    Can anyone explain to me what it means? Do the commas are well-placed?

    Thank you so much

    BTW, I neglected to say, you don't need any commas at all.

    Think of it more simply. If you just had, "The frog hopped and jumped all over the place," you wouldn't put a comma between them.

    Nor would you need one if you wrote, "The frog jumped in and around the whole place."

    Similarly, (if you give more detail), "The frog jumped on the porch and hopped all over the place."

    It's simply a compound verb, not a compound sentence, thus, you need no commas.
    If you had, "The frog jumped on the porch, and he hopped all over the place", THEN you would need the comma in order to separate the two complete sentences.

    and...to answer your original question renetta, "What does this mean?"
    It simply means that the writer wishes that his or her audience is able to feel like the scene is real.

    If the actors act as if the actions are "just part of a movie" (looking at someone BEFORE they speak, as if they expect the line to come; just saying their lines, without "reacting" to the way the other actors say their lines; etc.) then the audience won't feel like they are very involved in the scene.

    Does this help?
     

    Andre Balian

    Senior Member
    English, uSA
    JasonNPato said:
    BTW, I neglected to say, you don't need any commas at all.
    That was going to be my suggestion. The commas are bad. Get rid of them. :D

    If they were doing one more thing (or more) you would need to use them.
     

    jupa

    Senior Member
    English-United States
    Andre Balian said:
    That was going to be my suggestion. The commas are bad. Get rid of them. :D

    If they were doing one more thing (or more) you would need to use them.

    Though the commas are not necessary, I think they can be used to add emphasis to one of the verbs.


    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown".

    To me it reads something like, "I want to audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, not to mention reacting to, the actions shown."

    I'm not the best at grammar, so I can't say that this is the exact method of achieving this. Maybe dashes are better? I don't know. Just thought I'd suggest the idea. Let me know what you think.
     

    Maldini

    New Member
    England, English
    BTW, I neglected to say, you don't need any commas at all.
    ...

    It's simply a compound verb, not a compound sentence, thus, you need no commas.

    As posted originally by Renetta: "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown."

    There is no compound verb in this sentence. What you have are two verbal phrases ("are actually involved in" and "reacting to") that must be separated grammatically to make the sentence read properly.

    So yes, you do need commas in the sentence and I agree entirely with what Megan and Shambles have said. The grammatically correct way to write this is: "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown."


    Peter
     

    JasonNPato

    Senior Member
    USA-English
    Maldini said:
    As posted originally by Renetta: "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown."

    There is no compound verb in this sentence. What you have are two verbal phrases ("are actually involved in" and "reacting to") that must be separated grammatically to make the sentence read properly.
    I'm not trying to be sarcastic, because this is a serious question, but wouldn't the fact that you have two verbal phrases make it a compound verb?
    Just because their phrases doesn't change the fact that there is a compound verb does it????

    So yes, you do need commas in the sentence and I agree entirely with what Megan and Shambles have said. The grammatically correct way to write this is: "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown."


    Peter

    Ok...you CAN, I suppose, write it this way, and if you MUST include commas, the best placement for them is as they are above. But I still think it is best to leave the commas out completely, as I said before.

    I've had a LOT of practice with grammar, and I am often asked in school to help with more of the difficult questions of English grammar.

    And speaking from experience, I think there are a few people out there who would consider the use of commas in this instance wrong (and they would have a valid argument).
    If you must separate them grammatically, I would use dashes:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in -- and reacting to -- the actions shown."

    This emphasises "involved in" but also names specifically one of the ways in which the characters should be involved.
    It's better practice to separate verbal phrases such as these by dashes, that is, if the writer feels they (for whatever reason) need to be separated.
    Again, commas are probably (questionably) acceptable,
    but as you can see from all the discussion, commas leave room for confusion.
    While dashes -- or the absence of commas/dashes -- do not.

    Does anyone disagree? :)
     
    JasonNPato said:
    Ok...you CAN, I suppose, write it this way, and if you MUST include commas, the best placement for them is as they are above. But I still think it is best to leave the commas out completely, as I said before.

    Does anyone disagree? :)

    I'd have to say I'd be inclined to leave the commas in, if only because they reflect how you would actually speak the sentence (with small pauses where the commas are). I believe they make the sentence visually easier to read, as well.

    Otherwise, your English teacher and your newspaper copy reader probably would stick the commas back in if you left them out, but many other people might not.
     

    Maldini

    New Member
    England, English
    carrickp said:
    Otherwise, your English teacher and your newspaper copy reader probably would stick the commas back in if you left them out, but many other people might not.

    Absolutely!!


    And Jason, I think many others have had a lot of practice with grammar. Where I used to work, my job entailed a huge amount of writing, and good use of grammar was essential if I was going to communicate properly. So, we have a shared interest. I think you would agree that grammar is the building block of any language and we abuse it at our peril. However, that does not mean that it is cast in stone - language evolves and so too must grammar. However, the basics of grammar will remain, otherwise we might as well grunt at each others!!

    Buon Anno a te ed a tutti.


    Peter
     

    meganmilan

    Member
    New Zealand English
    meganmilan said:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting, to the actions shown".


    The commas are misplaced. It should read:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown.

    Hi All

    I have just reviewed this thread again and I believe there is an easy explanation as to why the commas should be place where they are.

    The best way to understand is to extend the sentence out, allowing for repetition of the object(s).

    The original sentence, where the commas are misplaced, now reads as follows:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in to the actions shown and reacting to the actions shown". You can see now that this does not make sense.

    We can contract the sentence by inserting commas and redirecting the verbs to the object. The second and third verbs in the sentence are independent of each other and take prepositions. The two prepositions are not the same.

    By placing a comma after each preposition the reader is then able to read both actions independently.

    Therefore, the reader now understands:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in the actions shown and reacting to the actions shown".

    Now when we contract the sentence again we get:

    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown".

    Not sure if this will help with your understanding but I just thought I would try and explain how my own thought process works in this case :)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    JasonNPato said:
    Ok...you CAN, I suppose, write it this way, and if you MUST include commas, the best placement for them is as they are above. But I still think it is best to leave the commas out completely, as I said before.

    Does anyone disagree? :)
    I disagree completely. :)

    Take the section "...involved in and..." Without the comma, this construction says that they're involved in something called "and". :) "Involved in" is directly connected to "the actions shown." "Reacting to" is directly connected to "the actions shown". The use of commas here is a way of "stacking" two verbs that are connected to the same object ("the actions shown"). Without the commas, you have a sentence that really makes no sense grammatically. "Involved in" is missing its object if you take the commas away.

    For example, you could say "the characters on the screen are involved in (each other) and reacting to the actions shown." To say, "the characters are involved in () and reacting to the actions shown" leaves a blank space in the sentence's construction.
     

    nohablo

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    meganmilan said:
    "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in the actions shown and reacting to the actions shown".
    I agree that this is the meaning of the sentence, though it seems a bit needlessly repetitious. I prefer "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown." The commas in this version add clarity and emphasis.
     

    meganmilan

    Member
    New Zealand English
    nohablo said:
    I agree that this is the meaning of the sentence, though it seems a bit needlessly repetitious. I prefer "I want the audience to believe that the characters on the screen are actually involved in, and reacting to, the actions shown." The commas in this version add clarity and emphasis.

    The sentence containing repetition was used to illustrate my point - by using well-placed commas we can contract the sentence and eliminate the need for repetition! :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I have seen from earlier discussions that although some of us like to use commas quite a lot, others are either comma-lite or comma-phobic. So, JamesM will insist that the commas are required, and quite rightly so, while JasonNPato, and I'm sure others, would be happy to leave them out.

    Did I give any hint of which I would prefer:rolleyes:


    This thread was asleep for seven months until meganmilan woke it up to add her point of clarification. No problem with that, but it is possible that others who were active in the thread last year are no longer around and therefore may not reply to comments.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I recommend a book called, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss. It is unique in that it is the only entertaining book I have ever read about punctuation. :) If it makes anything clear, it's that none of the rules are immutable.
     

    englishman

    Senior Member
    English England
    JamesM said:
    I disagree completely. :)

    And I agree with you. The sentence is fine with the commas as they are at present, and would be out-and-out incorrect were they to be removed.
     
    Top