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Coming here, I was arrested. The police thought I had some narcotics on me.

or

I was arrested, coming here. The police thought I had some narcotics on me.

Do both the sentences mean the same thing? Here, is the speaker talking about his getting arrested while he was on his way here? Or is he talking about his getting arrested after he got here?

Here is a similar construction Reading the third page of the book, he looked at me./ He looked at me, reading the third page of the book.

Here as well, did he look at me while reading the third page of the book, or did he look at me when he was done reading the third page of the book?

  • Why or even how would one person get arrested 'thrice' in one action of 'coming here', no matter which interpretation you ask about is correct? – Alan Carmack Sep 3 '16 at 6:14
  • okay, i'll just change that to something that makes more sense. – lekon chekon Sep 3 '16 at 6:36
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    @AlanCarmack better? – lekon chekon Sep 3 '16 at 6:42
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    You ask multiple questions, which are sufficiently related to evoke a comprehensive answer, if someone wants to undertake the effort. But I think it's likely to be considered too broad, so possibly off-topic. In any case, I think narrowing it would give you a better chance at getting a constructive answer. – Jim Reynolds Sep 3 '16 at 7:07
  • -1, I'm sure you've asked this question before. The language has not changed since then. *He looked at me, scratching his arse". Who's doing the scratching? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 3 '16 at 19:23
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The problem with both your constructs is the comma in both the second versions.

  1. Coming here, I was arrested. The police thought I had some narcotics on me.
  2. I was arrested coming here. The police thought I had some narcotics on me.

The first one has the emphasis on "coming here", the second on the arrest. You could use the first, for example, as the answer to a question:

"You're late. Did you have any trouble?"
"Yes. First I couldn't find my car keys. I looked everywhere until I found them in the dog kennel. And then coming here..."

The second series is harder, because it's difficult to both read and look at a person at the same time.

A. Reading the third page of the book, he looked at me.
B. He looked at me, reading the third page of the book.

The two versions are more subtle than before. Again the emphasis of the first is on the reading, so him looking at me is probably as a result of what was written there. A more expanded version could be "Midway through reading the third...", saying that he stopped reading to look at me.

The second version is clumsy. At first it looks like it should be

He looked at me reading the third page of the book.

but then it's implying that I'm the one reading the book while he looks at me. Assuming that you want it to be him reading, replace the comma with "while":

He looked at me while reading the third page of the book.

Again, he stops reading to look at me, but this time the reason is less clear. Maybe hes about to say something unrelated?

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