held it over him pretending like [Gerund Joining Clauses]

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trunghq

Senior Member
Vietnamese
Well, I ran into this sentence yesterday and I wondered that there is a missing comma here. Please tell me if I am wrong.

Then I held it over him pretending like I was going to make him eat it.

I changed it into: Then I held it over him, pretending like I was going to make him eat it.
For me, the sentence above is the same as: Then I held it over him. I pretended like I was going to make him eat it.

If not, which kind of grammar the red sentence related to?
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    What is "it" that's being held over him? It is literal (a water balloon) or figurative (a secret) or something else?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    That seems to me an incomplete thought: pretending like I was what?

    We need to understand the intended meaning in order to comment on it. What was going on? What do you think this person wanted to say?

    Please tell us where you saw this sentence. We ask you name the source of every quotation.

    Cross-posted with Copyright, who is asking a good question.
     

    trunghq

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    What is "it" that's being held over him?
    Sorry for my mistake. It is something to feed the kid (there is a picture describing a father trying to feed his baby).

    That seems to me an incomplete thought: pretending like I was what?

    We need to understand the intended meaning in order to comment on it. What was going on? What do you think this person wanted to say?

    Please tell us where you saw this sentence. We ask you name the source of every quotation.

    Cross-posted with Copyright, who is asking a good question.

    Sorry. I forgot the left. I have edited my sentences.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, I ran into this sentence yesterday and I wondered that there is a missing comma here. Please tell me if I am wrong.

    Then I held it over him pretending like I was going to make him eat it.

    I changed it into: Then I held it over him, pretending like I was going to make him eat it.
    For me, the sentence above is the same as: Then I held it over him. I pretended like I was going to make him eat it.
    I agree with the comma and your conclusion.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I think the comma is optional. I wouldn't use it personally.

    I think it disrupts the flow of the thought/sentence.

    Just my opinion.

    In other words, it's idiomatic to me without the comma.
     
    trung, your analysis of the grammar is correct. The two-sentence version has the same meaning.

    I agree that the comma is desirable. It helps identify the persons.

    There is a similar structure that would have no comma:

    I came upon him cowering in fear that I would kill him. Without the comma, the gerund might be seen as attaching to the nearest word as in this example.
     
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    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    With "comma", I would also need one after "then" in the sentence.

    Then, I held it over him, pretending like I was going to make him eat it.

    So, I'm pro "2 commas" or "no commas". I can't support the usage of just the one comma before "pretending". It makes me wonder what the noun of the whole sentence is.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    There is nothing to prevent your doing it that way if you wish, but 'then' is not needed, nor is the comma after 'then' required.


    Added: (I don't understand what you mean when you say that you wonder what the noun is.)
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    With one comma, there's really no formal sentence. (Subject, predicate and the such.)
     

    trunghq

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    First of all, thank you everyone for your clear explanations.

    Secondly, I often encounter some situations like this in which I don't understand why there is a V-ing clause acting like a subject/ an object when the first clause is obviously completed.

    Lastly, I also agree with one more comma for then.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Lastly, I also agree with one more comma for then.
    Your choice, of course, but it's not the best decision you've made today. :D

    "Then" here is not like "Lastly, I did my homework" or "Yesterday, we went to the fair." A comma after "Then" will only slow the reader down unnecessarily.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with Copyright and others. There should be a comma between the participial phrase and the main clause.

    "... pretending like I was going to make him eat it."

    This is a participial phrase. A participial phrase is an adjective phrase that begins with a participle. Here it modifies the subject of the sentence: "I".

    A comma is needed when the participial phrase is not adjacent to its noun, and that's the case here.
    http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/participle_phrases.htm
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Seems pretty common to me (maybe I'm common). :) Both of these are fine: the first for writing, the second for casual conversation.

    Then I held it over him, pretending I was going to make him eat it.
    Then I held it over him, pretending like I was going to make him eat it.
     
    To pick a small nit: Couldn't the 'pretending' piece be a clause. Then the usual analysis of a participle clause is as a adverb?

    http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/quick-grammar/participle-clauses

    Participle clauses

    Participle clauses are a form of adverbial clause which enables us to say information in a more economical way. We can use participle clauses when the participle and the verb in the main clause have the same subject. For example:


    Waiting for John, I made some tea.


    Waiting for John, the kettle boiled.
    [This would suggest that the kettle was waiting for John!]



    [...]

    This is a participial phrase. A participial phrase is an adjective phrase that begins with a participle. Here it modifies the subject of the sentence: "I".

    A comma is needed when the participial phrase is not adjacent to its noun, and that's the case here.
    http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/participle_phrases.htm
     
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