<While> entering the hall I was taken aback

sagar grammar

Senior Member
Namaste,
Dear members.

They say putting "while" will make the sentence correct. But I think it was already correct, do we really need a "while" at the beginning of the sentence? Why?

- Entering the hall I was taken aback when I saw the fantastic arrangement and sumptuous dinner.


Thanks. :)
 

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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Entering the hall, I was taken aback when I saw the fantastic arrangement and sumptuous dinner.

    The sentence looks fine to me, except I am not very sure what a "fantastic arrangement" is. Maybe large displays of flowers?

    I am not sure that "while" is a good synonym. You could say "Upon entering the hall..."
     
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    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Adding "while" would actually make the sentence much worse, because it would imply that entering the hall was a process that took some significant amount of time, and that at some time in the middle of that process the speaker was taken aback.
     

    sagar grammar

    Senior Member
    Thanks for replying, I started this thread because I too couldn't agree to the explanation they've given, as I have attached the photo in post#1.

    So they are wrong.


    I was wondering about one thing.
    Please tell me if the sentence will become better on putting an "a" before "sumptuous dinner".

    Thanks.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, it's right as it is. A second "the" (before "sumptuous dinner") is implied but omitted and the sentence reads all the better for it.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Namaste,
    Dear members.

    They say putting "while" will make the sentence correct. But I think it was already correct, do we really need a "while" at the beginning of the sentence? Why?

    - Entering the hall I was taken aback when I saw the fantastic arrangement and sumptuous dinner.


    Thanks. :)
    The main meaning of "while" is that of "duration." With "duration," there's an overlap between the two events ("entering," "taken aback"), so that the two events happen simultaneously. Not including "while" removes that idea of overlap/simultaneous. Does that make the sentence incorrect? No; we understand the basic message.

    Sometimes, not including "while" might introduce ambiguity (if we are picky about it). For example, "Entering the room, my cell phone rang" could be interpreted that "entering the room" caused my cell phone "to ring" (perhaps it's an episode of the X-Files). In any event, put "while" (While entering the room, my cell phone rang) and the two events happened simultaneously. In your test, could we interpret that "entering the room" was the cause of "taken aback"? I highly doubt it. We are already told when "taken aback" happened; it happened "when I saw the fantastic arrangement and sumptuous dinner." In your test, we can easily infer a "while" that was omitted (this sort of thing happens all the time in speech).

    Of course, leaving things out means that things other than "while" could be put it, with a slight change in meaning (I think). Upon entering the hall means that I "entered" and then what follows happened. The idea of simultaneity is lost (if that matters at all).

    And then I was thinking of what Glenfarcias already talked about: just how long does it take to enter the hall? While, in its duration sense, makes it a long process. It is therefore more logical to think of "upon" rather than "while."

    Questions like these, to me, are pointless and silly. Unfortunately, it's typical of what students face in tests.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Upon entering the hall means that I "entered" and then what follows happened. The idea of simultaneity is lost (if that matters at all).
    On the contrary, surely? Upon entering the room means the (very) moment I entered the room.
     

    NickL

    Senior Member
    English - Britain
    NickL said:
    Upon entering the hall means that I "entered" and then what follows happened. The idea of simultaneity is lost (if that matters at all).

    I didn't say that! don't understand how I'm being quoted here! But for the record I agree with lingobingo!
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    For example, "Entering the room, my cell phone rang" could be interpreted that "entering the room" caused my cell phone "to ring" (perhaps it's an episode of the X-Files). In any event, put "while" (While entering the room, my cell phone rang) and the two events happened simultaneously.
    Although dangling participles are permissible in English (with certain provisos*), I am surprised that you regard your sentence as acceptable. Adding while seems to make the problem worse. :)

    * They are condemned where unintentional humour arises, when they are regarded as ungrammatical or poor style. Example: Wondering what to do, the clock struck twelve.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Although dangling participles are permissible in English (with certain provisos*), I am surprised that you regard your sentence as acceptable. Adding while seems to make the problem worse. :)

    * They are condemned where unintentional humour arises, when they are regarded as ungrammatical or poor style. Example: Wondering what to do, the clock struck twelve.
    I'm not terribly bothered by dangling participles. Most of the time, the "subject" of the dangling participle can be recovered from the surrounding context. That's not the case with my (or your) example, given that they are isolated sentences. At other times, we infer/recognize the "subject" simply through cognition, and that's what happens in our sentences. With verbs of movement (entering) and perception (wondering), we intuitively associate them with an agent, someone capable of doing the "entering" and the "wondering." Obviously, a cell phone and a clock can't be "agent," which means that the (logical) subject can only be the unidentified speaker of the sentence. Cognition is never divorced from language.

    Where danglers become an issue is when you've got more than one agent capable of carrying out the verb action; that's where cognition is compromised: Entering the room, the dog turned around and looked at me. Given that both the unidentified speaker and the dog can be associated with a verb of movement, we can't tell exactly who is doing the "entering."

    But I think we are all in agreement that the test question in the OP is a poor one, and it's nonsense to say that adding "while" makes it correct.
     
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    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    On the contrary, surely? Upon entering the room means the (very) moment I entered the room.
    I think you meant to quote me, not NickL.
    In any event, Upon entering puts us at the end of the movement, so that there's a sense of completed action ("entered"), whereas While entering puts in the "middle" (sort of speak) of it (and it implies that "entering" is a rather long process, as Glenfarcias first pointed out).
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    NickL said:
    Upon entering the hall means that I "entered" and then what follows happened. The idea of simultaneity is lost (if that matters at all).

    I didn't say that! don't understand how I'm being quoted here! But for the record I agree with lingobingo!
    I think you meant to quote me, not NickL.
    Just to explain – it must have been some technical problem (and/or something to do with my criminally slow Internet connection) that caused that quote to come up attributed to the wrong person. If there's any method by which I could have made it do that all by myself, it's one I have yet to learn!
     
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