0

Kitty: 'Jair surprised me by asking whether I might be interested in working with him'. (1)

Kitty: 'Jair surprised me when asking whether I might be interested in working with him'. (2)

Could (1) mean that Jair asked directly to Kitty, whereas (2) means he asked to someone else who was near enough to her that she heard the question? E.g., what do by and when change the meaning of Kitty's speech?

  • Jair can surprise Kitty by asking something and Jair will surprise Kitty when he would ask the same. (( I mean to say, if X occurs Y, Y is occurred by X and at the same time, we say when to define the time, Y occurs)) – Mistu4u Sep 29 '13 at 16:05
1

You could either say "by asking" or "when he asked", but you wouldn't say "when asking". The two sentences mean basically the same thing, with just a tiny difference:

He surprised me by asking whether I might be interested in working with him.

In this version, the surprise is the result of the event of the asking. The event/occasion/action of him asking caused her surprise.

He surprised me when he asked whether I might be interested in working with him.

In this case, the surprise is described as occurring at the time which he asked. It refers to the time at which the asking occurred, not the asking itself.

This is a very minor difference, though. You can choose whichever you like, you get your meaning across either way.

  • Excuse me, but should I conclude that 'when asking' is ungrammatical? I ask because it is unclear what you want to say with 'you wouldn't say "when asking"'. – user2793 Sep 29 '13 at 16:53
  • 1
    @AtsutoNagatomo Yeah, when asking doesn't work here. Both the asking and the surprising happened in the past, so you say when he asked. – WendiKidd Sep 29 '13 at 17:01
  • 1
    @AtsutoNagatomo No, after searching is fine there. I find it hard to articulate why when asking doesn't work in this case. Perhaps it is grammatical, but it doesn't sound acceptable to a native speaker. I just attempted to type up an explanation of why but it ended up not making sense. I wish I could give you a better reason, but I don't know how to explain it. – WendiKidd Sep 29 '13 at 17:22
  • 3
    Not quite. You can't use when asking to here to indicate that the question was the cause of the surprise; but you may use it to indicate the occasion of the surprise: "He surprised me by goosing me sharply when asking whether I might be interested in working with him." – StoneyB Sep 29 '13 at 18:41
  • 1
    @StoneyB I was talking to snailboat while posting this answer, and I told her I had a feeling I was missing something and someone would come along and correct me ;) In your example sentence I'd prefer while to when, but I see your point. I'm not quite sure how to explain it myself, though, so if you'd like to post another answer feel free. I'd gladly upvote it :) – WendiKidd Sep 29 '13 at 18:49

Your Answer

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