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He left for Mumbai on Sunday arriving there on Monday.

This sentence is from an error spotting exercise which suggests to replace arriving with to arrive. Is it correct?

If yes, then how will I have to modify the tense after pronoun He if I want to use arriving? Because replacing arriving with to arrive conveys a sort of uncertainty, the reader is not able to ascertain whether he was able to arrive there on Monday or not but if I use arriving then this voids that ambiguity and clearly conveys that He was able to successfully arrive there on Monday, will this be correct:

He had left for Mumbai on Sunday arriving there on Monday.

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First, let's look at the original sentence and break it down:

He left for Mumbai on Sunday arriving there on Monday.

Arriving can either be a present participle or a gerund, based on the -ing ending. Clearly its use as a gerund in this case does not make sense. It does not describe a place from which he may have left, and it does not serve as an appositive for any of the other objects in the sentence. This makes it a present participle. One of the uses of a present participle is use after verbs of movement, action, or position, to indicate parallel activity. This would mean that he arrived at the same time that he was leaving. That is clearly not the case, and so the use of a present participle is invalid in this case. While you may think that the sentence conveys that he successfully arrived, it does not, because it is not consistent with the rules of grammar. Hence the error in it that you were to spot.

The proposed correction is indeed correct, and it does not change the meaning of the sentence, because again, the sentence as it is, is not workable. I will deviate slightly from user3169's intended meaning, in that I would read the corrected sentence as:

He left for Mumbai on Sunday (in order) to arrive there on Monday.

This construction indicates the intended result, not the actual result.

Second, let's look at your proposed change to the sentence:

He had left for Mumbai on Sunday arriving there on Monday.

Arriving is still a present participle in this sentence, so it is still taking place at the same time as leaving. Changing the tense of the main verb does not alter this behavior. So no, this is not better than the original sentence for the purpose of communicating. As user3169 answered, the correct way of communicating this is:

He left for Mumbai on Sunday and arrived there on Monday.

This all matters because you tagged this as an exam question, not as conversational English. You also did not provide any further context, so we have to take the sentence on its own. However, this type of language can be used in the context of transportation, in which case, the method of transportation is assumed. For instance:

Q: Did he arrive here (Mumbai)? A: Yes, according to our records. He left for Mumbai on Sunday (on a plane) arriving there on Monday.

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Think of it this way:

He left for Mumbai on Sunday (expecting) to arrive there on Monday.

This would be said before the speaker learns that he arrived, so his arrival is an expectation not a fact. At the point of the statement, the speaker knew he left, so there is no reason not to use simple past. The tense of left doesn't change.

Where perfect tense could be used, because there is a later concrete action:

He had left for Mumbai on Sunday, but because of a sudden emergency at work he needed to return Sunday evening.

If the statement was made after the speaker learned of his arrival, then:.

He left for Mumbai on Sunday and arrived there on Monday.

As uncertain/predicted activity in the future (let's say he is telling his boss about a co-worker's travel plans), you could use:

He is leaving for Mumbai on Sunday, arriving there on Monday.

  • You answer didn't answer my question . I said using "to arrive" implies that , as you said, the speaker expected to arrive on Monday , he may or may not have been successful. But what if I want to explicitly mention that he was successful in arriving there on Monday. How would I say that ? Would I say he left for Mumbai on Sunday and arrived there on Monday ? I.e. replace "to arrive" with " and arrived" ? – user212388 Sep 23 '17 at 10:39
  • if I want to explicitly say that he was successful in arriving then obviously statement was made after he had arrived. – user212388 Sep 24 '17 at 3:02

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