My original sentence was:

"The network packet arrived before XXX will not be accepted"

But, I was recommended to revise it as:

"The network packet arriving before XXX will not be accepted"

Is it because I used "will"? I thought XXX is present, so I should use 'arrived before'

  • 2
    For any context I can imagine, you need to change the first word to a or any. The first version is simply ungrammatical, but as well as changing arrived to arriving you could also fix it with which arrives. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:32
  • @FumbleFingers The first one is not ungrammatical, it depends on what the OP means. Consider "Tickets for any train (that have) arrived before 4pm will not be refunded." The packets might be packets arriving in the future, or packets that have already arrived and are waiting to be accepted (of course the former is more plausible). We need a little more context from the OP.
    – MorganFR
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:34
  • @MorganFR: You're kidding! You seriously want to maintain that things like Guests arrived late will not be admitted are grammatical? I suppose it might depend on your definition of "grammatical", but I think almost no native speakers would find it acceptable to use this construction with the specific verb arrived. Note that it's okay with, say, sent because you can send a packet, but you can't arrive a packet. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:45
  • @FumbleFingers I would indeed add "that/who have" in front of "arrived", like I did in my own example. In any case, replacing "arrived" with "arriving " gives the sentence a whole new meaning, which, in you example, makes even more sense than network packets".
    – MorganFR
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:49
  • @MorganFR: Your own example is even worse, despite disingenuously including that have in an attempt to fix what I maintain is an ungrammatical construction. It would need to be ...for any train that has arrived before 4pm (or just delete has, but you can't do without that). Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


Your second sentence is correct, however your first sentence

The network packet arrived before XXX will not be accepted

is ungrammatical and proposes a hypothetical situation which can be stated as

If the network packet arrived before XXX, it will not be accepted
When the network packet arrived before XXX, it will not be accepted

or the actual occurrence

The network packet arrived before XXX and was not be accepted

Also, "the" should possibly be changed to "a" since packet switching networks are comprised of many different packets, unless you are referring to a specific type of packet.

A network packet arriving before XXX will not be accepted

NB: Usually there is a serial-id associated with every packet in a packet switching network which does not constrain the packets to be received in a particular order at the terminal node, and allows the original message to be pieced back together again.

  • +1 for noting that packets can arrive out of order. Note that TCP allows for our of order and not UDP.
    – MikeP
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 17:25

The point is that the verb is being used here as an adjective or part of an adjectival phrase describing packets which meet the described condition (arrived before XXXX). The difficulty is in coming up with a rule defining the tense of the verb to use as an adjective. I had to think about it but I believe that I have come up with one, it is this. If the noun being qualified is the subject of the verb then either the present participle should be used ('arriving' in this case) or the adjective should be expanded into an adjectival phrase specifying the subject (eg 'which have arrived'). If the noun is the object of the verb (eg 'packets sent before XXXX') then the past tense can be used. I think I'm right but I'm prepared to accept an example which proves me wrong!

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