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Given Sentence:

Trying not to show her sadness, she came into the room, whistling.

Question:

How did she hide her sadness?

Possible Answers:

  1. She hide her sadness by whistling.
  2. She hide her sadness, whistling.

I prefer "2" as "whistling" are used as adverb in this sentence for the two actions happening at the same time. Which is better, 1 or 2? Are there differences in meaning?

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  • The past tense of hide is hid.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 11:00

1 Answer 1

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#1 is definitely the better answer. #2 doesn't really make sense as an answer. Let's look at why.

The question here is how. That means "by what method?" or "in what way?" So the question is asking by what method did she hide her sadness, not just "what was she doing when she hid her sadness?"

By means "through the agency or instrumentality of" (see definition 4a). Since the question is by what method, answer #1, with "by", makes more sense: it means "She hid her sadness through the method of whistling."

#2 just says that she hid her sadness and she was whistling. It doesn't say that whistling was how she hid her sadness, so it's not really answering the question.

As a side note, neither answer is completely correct, because they should begin "She hid her sadness..." All of the actions happened in the past: she came into the room, she did hide her sadness. That means the answer has to be in the past tense too: She hid her sadness.

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