studying at a college called Occidental

Yogi100

Member
Hindi
Hello sir,
I want to ask you one query about present participle used in the sentences below. The below paragraph is spoken words of the native English professor.

1) He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – going to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.

"Studying at a college" seems to be a purpose for coming to LA. Then why "to study at a college" is not used in the paragraph above ?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A purpose is not always fulfilled. The purpose 'to study' could be followed by something that says the thing did not happen:

    He later came to Los Angeles for two years, to study at a college called Occidental, but was immediately fascinated by Hollywood, and became an actor instead.

    In contrast, 'studying' says that the thing did happen. It happened at the same time as, or just after, the previous thing:

    He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental

    This means he studied there in those two years. This could not be followed by a denial of the type "but he did not / but something stopped him".
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Hello sir,
    Thanks for answering my question.
    But one last question I want to ask you .
    What is the main difference between those sentences below?

    1) He later came to Los Angeles for two years for studying at a college called Occidental.
    2) He later came to Los Angeles for two years to study at a college called Occidental.
    3) He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental.

    Thanks in advance
     

    Toby Sherman

    Member
    American English
    All three sentences have the same problem in saying that "He came to Los Angeles for two years." How can a person come somewhere continuously for two years? Did he go back and forth to somewhere else? Or do you mean he came to Los Angeles and then lived there for two years, or stayed there for two years, etc.?

    That being said, 2 and 3 are understandable, but do not have the same apparent meaning, while 1 is simply not English.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    All three sentences have the same problem in saying that "He came to Los Angeles for two years." How can a person come somewhere continuously for two years? Did he go back and forth to somewhere else? Or do you mean he came to Los Angeles and then lived there for two years, or stayed there for two years, etc.?

    That being said, 2 and 3 are understandable, but do not have the same apparent meaning, while 1 is simply not English.
    Hello Sir,
    It is a story of Barack Obama and the below are spoken words of a native(American) English professor. Kindly go through it once and please explain me the use of present participle used here.

    Barack Obama’s father was studying in the U.S., married to an American woman – Barack Obama’s mother, of course. His mother was originally from Kansas, whose family had moved to Hawaii. Hawaii is the only island state in the U.S., and Barack Obama is the first president to come from that state. Hawaii is also our newest state, the 50th state, having joined the U.S. only two years before Barack Obama was born in 1959.

    When Obama was just two years old, his father left Hawaii to continue his studies at Harvard University. The Obamas divorced when he was only four years old. After his father left, Obama only saw him once before his father died in a car accident in Kenya when he was still relatively young, in 1982. Barack Obama’s mother remarried when he was six years old to a man from Indonesia, and together the two of them had a daughter by the name of Maya.

    Shortly, after Maya was born, the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. There, Barack Obama went to a government-run school for about four years before returning to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. His mother travelled back and forth between Jakarta and Honolulu when she finished her doctoral degree – an advanced college degree which you can earn after your bachelor’s and master’s degree. I believe her doctoral degree was in anthropology.

    In any case, Obama graduated from high school from a very good, expensive private high school in Honolulu in 1979. He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – going to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.

    If I said the sentences below this. What will be the difference in the meanings of all the three sentences ?

    1) He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years.
    2) He later came to Los Angeles for two years for studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years.
    3) He later came to Los Angeles for two years to study at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years,


    Thanks in advance
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    No.2 (with "for studying") is wrong. We don't say that.

    The other two are OK; the choice depends on the author's taste.

    All three end the sentence at "here in L.A." The next words are part of a different sentence.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Wow, you want us to read through all the English sentences that ever used "for + present participle" and explain them? No, that's why the forum rules say that you have to provide the examples.

    But I can think of one example -- when giving a reason: "I may get criticised by the moderators for answering a question which has no context".
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello Sir ,
    In what situations do we use (for + present participle) in spoken English ?
    Verbs vary a lot in how they can be combined with other verbs. "Come" can be followed directly by a gerund or a to-infinitive, so there is no need to use "for" + gerund. Other verbs can't be followed directly by a gerund, so these might use "for", although I think that verb + "for" + gerund is a fairly unusual construction. Do you have an example in mind, because I can't think of one off the top of my head? In all the verb + "for" + -ing word constructions I can think of, the -ing word is a noun, not a gerund.

    Your sentence, though, doesn't use "come" + gerund (which would describe two aspects of the same action: "they came bearing gifts", for example), but uses a participle phrase for a secondary action, the equivalent of "He came and he studied". Participle phrases for secondary actions can be used in a wide range of situations, and with nay verb (or any action verb at any rate).

    Note that using using a participle makes it clear that the second action took place (he did study). Using a to-infinitive just says what the purpose of the first action was, but it does not say that the second action actually occurred: He might have come to study, but then fell into a deep depression and never actually enrolled at the university.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Hello Sir,

    1) After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – going to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.
    2) After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – to go to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.

    What would be the main difference in the sentences above ?
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Verbs vary a lot in how they can be combined with other verbs. "Come" can be followed directly by a gerund or a to-infinitive, so there is no need to use "for" + gerund. Other verbs can't be followed directly by a gerund, so these might use "for", although I think that verb + "for" + gerund is a fairly unusual construction. Do you have an example in mind, because I can't think of one off the top of my head? In all the verb + "for" + -ing word constructions I can think of, the -ing word is a noun, not a gerund.

    Your sentence, though, doesn't use "come" + gerund (which would describe two aspects of the same action: "they came bearing gifts", for example), but uses a participle phrase for a secondary action, the equivalent of "He came and he studied". Participle phrases for secondary actions can be used in a wide range of situations, and with nay verb (or any action verb at any rate).

    Note that using using a participle makes it clear that the second action took place (he did study). Using a to-infinitive just says what the purpose of the first action was, but it does not say that the second action actually occurred: He might have come to study, but then fell into a deep depression and never actually enrolled at the university.
    Nicely explained.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is only one action, so using a to-infinitive (which is used to indicate purpose) makes no sense to me. Sentence (1) is fine (well, apart from the parenthesis and the rather odd "in 1983" on the end).

    If a different verb were used, one which did not include going somewhere, then sentence (2) would be fine:
    After two years, he left to go to one of the better universities in the U.S.​
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Nicely explained.
    Can we also say like this below.

    1) He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A.

    2) He later came to Los Angeles for two years and was studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A.

    Will you be able to tell me that 2nd example is exactly same to the first one. ?
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Hello Sir,
    Can I say like this below ?
    1) After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – going to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.

    2) After two years, he transferred – he moved universities and went to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The inclusion of "for two years" with "come" is very unusual, and severely limits what else can be said in the same sentence. A participle phrase is okay, but if you are going to use a second independent clause, I think you can only use the past simple "and studied".

    Without "for two years", the past continuous "was studying" would be fine if the writer then wanted to go on to talk about something that happened during his time at Occidental. If the writer doesn't want to talk about his time at Occidental, then I don't think there is any reason at all for using the past continuous.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. There is still only one action, so don't try using two verbs. What you have in the original sentence (1) is that the "going to" phrase describes the nature of "transferring". Although I used the word "parenthesis" in my earlier post, referring to "he moved universities", "going to one of the better universities in the U.S" is also a parenthesis, I think.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Hello Sir,

    I am also confused with the usage of "to +infinitive and for+present participle. Now, I have taken your sentence(your reply).

    1) If the writer doesn't want to talk about his time at Occidental, then I don't think there is any reason at all for using the past continuous.
    2) If the writer doesn't want to talk about his time at Occidental, then I don't think there is any reason at all to use the past continuous.

    Would the meaning of the 2nd sentence change, If I used "to use" in the sentence instead of "for using".

    Need you inputs.

    Thanks
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I don't see the idea of purpose at all in "He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental."
    He came to LA from Hawaii and he studied for two years at Occidental College. While he was in LA, he studied at Occidental.

    Studying at Occidental College may well have been the reason that he came to LA, but that's not what the sentence says.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    1) If the writer doesn't want to talk about his time at Occidental, then I don't think there is any reason at all for using the past continuous.
    2) If the writer doesn't want to talk about his time at Occidental, then I don't think there is any reason at all to use the past continuous.

    Would the meaning of the 2nd sentence change, If I used "to use" in the sentence instead of "for using".
    No, but that is because of the noun "reason". With a different noun, or with a different construction, the options are different, and you cannot, in general, replace a to-infinitive with "for" + gerund or vice versa.
     

    LVRBC

    Senior Member
    English-US, standard and medical
    He studied at Occidental, a small private college near Los Angeles, for two years, then transferred to Columbia University in New York in 1983. That's the sentence in clear US-English. All these actions happened in the past, so there's no need to say "studying" or "going." People don't always make the best word choices in spontaneous spoken language, and analyzing that word choice is not always productive.
    Whoever originally said this added "He moved universities," which is not an idiomatic expression here, because he thought his hearers might not understand the word transferred.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    All three sentences have the same problem in saying that "He came to Los Angeles for two years." How can a person come somewhere continuously for two years? Did he go back and forth to somewhere else? Or do you mean he came to Los Angeles and then lived there for two years, or stayed there for two years, etc.?

    That being said, 2 and 3 are understandable, but do not have the same apparent meaning, while 1 is simply not English.
    Hello Sir,

    It is the story of an American president Barack Obama. I have attached here the small paragraph giving information about Barack Obama.

    Obama graduated from high school from a very good, expensive private high school in Honolulu in 1979. He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A. After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – going to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.

    Can you help me understand present participle (studying) and (going) used here and rephrase the sentence?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Studying" is a secondary action, and can be replaced with a conjunction and a clause ("and studied..."). This use is very common when you want to combine two closely-related actions into a single sentence.

    "Going" is probably intended in the same way, but I think the writer has got themselves in a muddle following the addition of the wholly unnecessary "he moved universities", because there is only one action, and "going" isn't needed at all:
    After two years, he transferred to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.​
    I have no idea why the writer thought "transferred" needed any explanation. But having decided it did, I suppose that the writer didn't feel like continuing the sentence after the parenthesis with a preposition, and wanted a verb to remind people what was being talked about. Really, "going" is just a restatement of "transferred", and indeed the writer could have used "transferring" (although repetition like this would be poor style):
    After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – transferring to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.​

    Personally, I think it would be better without the participle:
    After two years, he transferred – he moved universities – to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.​

    If you read "going" as a secondary action, then you end up with
    After two years, he transferred and went to one of the better universities in the U.S., Columbia University in New York City in 1983.​
    which doesn't make a lot of sense.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The repetition makes a lot more sense in speech. When you digress from what you are saying, to add an explanation perhaps ("he moved universities"), you often need to return to a point before the digression so that listeners can more easily follow what you are saying without needing to rely on their memories. "Going" is really just a way of reminding readers how the prepositional phrase that follows fits in to the overall meaning.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    1. He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, = He later came to Los Angeles for two years and he studied at a college called Occidental,

    Here we see that he did study at a college called Occidental

    2. He later came to Los Angeles for two years, to study at a college called Occidental, = He later came to Los Angeles for two years, in order to study at a college called Occidental,

    Here we see his purpose in coming to Los Angeles.

    You must be careful when you understand "to verb" it often means "in order to verb."
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Can you please give me a short explanation in what situations we use present participle ?
    Using a present participle phrase for a secondary action, as you have here with "studying", is so common that I am sure that you will have no difficulty finding examples.

    This isn't the only use, but the example you have with "going" is so unusual that it is not really worth remembering at all. In any case, what "going" illustrates is not really a use of a participle phrase but use of repetition in speech, to help listers follow a difficult sentence. This kind of repetition most often is just that, repeating a previous word. It is unusual for a participle to be involved. This pattern is barely found in writing at all.
     

    Joetofu

    Member
    English (US - northeast)
    All three sentences have the same problem in saying that "He came to Los Angeles for two years." How can a person come somewhere continuously for two years? Did he go back and forth to somewhere else? Or do you mean he came to Los Angeles and then lived there for two years, or stayed there for two years, etc.?

    That being said, 2 and 3 are understandable, but do not have the same apparent meaning, while 1 is simply not English.
    I think the speaker uses “came” because he’s speaking “in LA,” and “came to LA for two years” is equivalent to “came to LA, staying for two years.” I agree that “came for two years” could sound odd in writing, but in casual speech it doesn’t strike me as wrong.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    All three sentences have the same problem in saying that "He came to Los Angeles for two years." How can a person come somewhere continuously for two years? Did he go back and forth to somewhere else? Or do you mean he came to Los Angeles and then lived there for two years, or stayed there for two years, etc.?
    It's perfectly understandable -- the opposite viewpoint of "He went to Los Angeles for two years." He travelled to LA and stayed for two years.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    It's perfectly understandable -- the opposite viewpoint of "He went to Los Angeles for two years." He travelled to LA and stayed for two years.
    Hello sir,
    I want to thank you for explaining the present participle clause nicely. I want to ask you one last question.

    1) He later came to Los Angeles for two years, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A
    2) He, studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A, later came to Los Angeles for two years.
    3) Studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A, he later came to Los Angeles for two years.

    Do all the above sentences carry the same meaning? If not, then why ?
     
    Last edited:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Present participle phrases are used for a number of purposes. In your original "studying" sentence, it is a secondary action. In this use, the sentence structure is usually [main clause], [participle phrase]. The two actions need to be closely connected, they almost always have the same agent (the subject of the main clause also performs the action in the participle phrase), and the action in the participle phrase has to be in some way secondary to the action in the main clause, in the eyes of the writer, at any rate.

    Although a "secondary action" participle phrase can sometimes come before the main clause, this usually only happens where the action in the participle phrase happens first. In other situations, putting the participle phrase first is confusing, because participle phrases at the beginning of sentences are more usually associated with adding information about the subject of the main clause, where they function as adjectives ("feeling sleepy, she went to bed", for example).

    Pay close attention to adverbs of time. In your original sentence, "later" applies to the whole sentence; it does not mean that his coming to LA happened later than his studying, but that both actions happened later than whatever was mentioned in the previous sentence. Although
    3a) Later studying at a college called Occidental, a small private college here in L.A, he came to Los Angeles for two years.​
    removes the problem of "later", it still does not work because he clearly came to LA before he began studying.

    Also, if you want to look at changing the sentence, I suggest you remove "for two years". In its place, it makes sense, but it does tend to confuse things.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Do you mean to say that if present participle is coming at the end of the sentence that means
    1) Either it would be two actions happening at the same time as the main clause.
    Or
    2) An action happens after the action in the main clause.

    If present participle is coming in the beginning of the sentence then it would mean , An action happens before the main clause.

    Would that be correct? Do you have any inputs on these points ?
     
    Last edited:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The sentence structure [main clause], [participle phrase] does not indicate the sequence of the actions, merely their relative importance in the mind of the writer. However, it is unusual for the participle phrase to refer to something that happened prior to the main clause.

    There is never any need to use the construction [main clause], [participle phrase]. Writers can use [independent clause] + conjunction + [independent clause] instead, and this pattern is invariably followed in speech (I am now confused, because didn't you or someone else say this was spoken? The repetition in "transferred...going" is definitely more associated with speech than writing, but [main clause], [participle phrase] is a very unusual construction in speech).

    If the sequence of events, or anything else, does not fit a [main clause], [participle phrase] construction, a writer will simply not use it. Most of the time, the obvious construction to use instead is [independent clause] + conjunction + [independent clause]. There is no need to go looking for some other way to use a participle phrase.
     

    Yogi100

    Member
    Hindi
    Hello Sir,

    Thank you for answering my question. So if I switched it around. The sentences below carry the same meaning, don't they?

    1) "Feeling sleepy, she went to bed.
    2) She went to bed, "feeling sleepy.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello Sir,

    Thank you for answering my question. So if I switched it around. The sentences below carry the same meaning, don't they?

    1) "Feeling sleepy, she went to bed.
    2) She went to bed, "feeling sleepy.
    No, but I won't answer this question in this thread; it has nothing to do with using a participle phrase for a secondary action. Feeling sleepy is not an action.
     
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