we leaned against the embankment, putting... sleeping...

< Previous | Next >

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
After we tossed our empty beer cans into the ocean, we leaned against the embankment, putting our duffel coats under our heads as pillows and sleeping for an hour.
(Murakami, Haruki. Hear the Wind Sing. Trans. Alfred Birnbaum.)

Are "sleeping" and "putting" the best possible options here here? I think "put" and "slept" work better because the verb that preceded "putting" and "sleeping" is "leaned". So I'd use the simple past throughout. The problem with "sleeping" is that it makes it seem as though the sleeping was going on while they were leaning against the embankment. That does not appear the be the intended meaning. Do you agree with this assessment?
 
  • bluegiraffe

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I disagree, they were sleeping whilst leaning against the embankment, using their duffel coats as pillows. This construction is not wrong, I suspect it has been used for reasons of style.
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, bluegiraffe.

    Upon reflection, I take back what I said about "sleeping". Still, the fact that the progressive tense is used for "put" implies to me that this was an ongoing process. Or not? Whilst this is true for "sleeping" -- they slept for an hour -- "putting" is a one-off event.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The construction isn't wrong, I agree with BG.:)

    The present participle in English can be used in different ways, see this ( source:edufind.com), which provides a simple explanation of its various uses.

    It is perhaps more usual in other languages: in Italian for example we would express the concept in exactly the same way.;)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top