3

Is this sentence grammatically correct?

Organised by the Charitable Giving Association, it involved hundreds of people from all walks of life, beginning on December 25th and lasting for three days.

Is this a correct use of 'beginning' and 'lasting'?

When I speak the sentence above out loud, it sounds correct, but if I take the last part and use it in a simpler sentence, it starts to sound wrong to my ears:

It was a great event, beginning on December 25th and lasting for three days.

The sentence is in the past tense, so therefore it would be appropriate to use 'began' and 'lasted' instead, but is it OK to use the forms above?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Oct 11 '16 at 13:46

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • As it stands it is fine. If you wanted to use 'began' and 'lasted' you would have to insert 'it' at least once to give "It was a great event, it began on Dec25th and lasted for three days", or even "It was a great event. It began on Dec25th and lasted for three days" Personally I find it flows better with the comma and the continuous form of the verbs. – BoldBen Oct 11 '16 at 9:47
  • Thanks. Yes, that was exactly my concern about using began and lasted. I could also use 'which', which sounds OK for "It was a great event, which began on December 25th and lasted for three days", but not so much for the long sentence. – PatchWar Oct 11 '16 at 10:04
  • Your second example sounds a little awkward because it puts rather disparate statements into the same sentence (this has nothing to do with grammar per se). The 'great event' and 'lasting three days' pair nicely, but 'beginning on December 25th' is arguably incongruous and better put elsewhere. I'd also prefer your first example to be restructured. If the one-sentence format is considered fixed, I'd far prefer 'Organised by the Charitable Giving Association, beginning on December 25th, and lasting for three days, it involved hundreds of people from all walks of life.' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 11 '16 at 10:27
  • However, your actual question doesn't refer to the issue I've mentioned. With an example I'd be happier with: << It was a very long event, beginning on December 25th and lasting for three months. >> there is no problem. But this has been addressed here before. See the article at Perfect English Grammar mentioned in the last thread dealing with how participle phrases may be used. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 11 '16 at 11:34
  • Thanks. I was concerned I had picked up a bad habit and was writing nonsense, but you and BoldBen have allayed my fears. Thanks also for the suggestions, which are very helpful. – PatchWar Oct 11 '16 at 12:09
2

Organised by the Charitable Giving Association, it involved hundreds of people from all walks of life, beginning on December 25th and lasting for three days.

Just to close the loop on this, your sentence is fine as it is since it gets across your intended meaning and doesn't really break any grammar rules.

However, as a matter of style the adjectival phrase "beginning on ..." could benefit from being closer to the pronoun it modifies ("it"), as in the following example:

Beginning on December 25th and lasting three days, and organized by Charitable Giving Association, it involved ...

Or, alternately, if you really want to keep the date range at the end of the sentence (for emphasis or effect) then you can structure the sentence as a list of features:

... it involved hundreds of people from all walks of life, and began on December 25th and lasted for three days.

The double "and" here is awkward, though, but this is the kind of challenge all writers must wrestle with.

... it involved hundreds of people from all walks of life and lasted for three days, beginning on December 25th.

Still a bit awkward. Let's try again:

... it involved ... and lasted for three days, from December 25th to December 28th.

I'm not sure I like this any better, but you get the idea.

As a side note, if you're talking to an audience that recognizes the date, saying something began on "December 25th" is also awkward, since everyone should know that's Christmas Day. I assume the organizers of the event did this on purpose, so it's weird not to explicitly say, "It began on Christmas Day".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy