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While writing this sentence in fiction, should I put in a comma after "fanned out" or should I withhold it to imply restrictive use?

They fanned out looking for Justin.

  • I don't think "looking for Justin" is a participle phrase. If it was a participle phrase what would it modify? Not "they" since it describes what they are doing, not what they are. – Andrew Nov 4 '17 at 22:45
  • Thank you for pointing that out. Should I use a comma in this sentence? – skywardhope Nov 4 '17 at 23:55
  • You can, but that's now how I would write it. To me, "fanned out looking" is a kind of compound verb, but I'm sure there's a more linguistic name for it. – Andrew Nov 5 '17 at 6:05
  • "Looking for Justin" is a gerund-participial clause functioning as an adjunct -- a modifier in clause structure. – BillJ Nov 5 '17 at 8:55

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