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For a Halloween event, I dressed up as a student, knocked on my teacher's doors, and received extra homework.

Can this sentence be rewritten using knocking? Is the following grammatically correct and used?

I dressed up as student, knocking on my teacher's doors, he gave me extra homework.

Under what circumstances do we use knocking? How can we phrase it?

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  • For a Halloween event I dressed up as a student; I found though, that knocking on my teacher's doors only resulted in receiving extra homework. Leave it to a teacher to opt for the "Trick".
    – Jim
    Jan 3, 2014 at 7:00
  • can i also write: "I dressed up as a student, knocked on my teacher's doors, then the teacher gave me extra homework?
    – user59768
    Jan 3, 2014 at 7:32
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    here but would be more appropriate than then.
    – Stark07
    Jan 3, 2014 at 10:39
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    It should be either teacher's door, or teachers' doors, but not teacher's doors – not unless you knocked at both the front door and the back door of the same house.
    – J.R.
    Jan 3, 2014 at 11:27
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    Did you knock while dressing? At the same time? If not, keep the sequence: dressed, then knocked. Not dressed, [while] knocking.
    – SF.
    Jan 3, 2014 at 14:34

2 Answers 2

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There are ways to get "knocking" into the verbiage, but you need to be careful about how you mix the past tense (dressed up as) with the participle (knocking). Here are two ways I might do it:

For Halloween, I dressed as a student. After knocking on my teacher's door, he gave me extra homework.

For Halloween, I dressed as a student. I went knocking on doors – only to get extra homework.

I think these work because of the words after, gave, and went, which clearly put the context in the past.

The sentence sounds like it's supposed to be a quip with a punchline. The kid actually doesn't wear a costume ("dressing as a student" simply means he's wearing his day-to-day clothing). He thought he was being clever by calling this so-called costume "dressed as a student," but the joke was on him when he got homework instead of candy. That's why I've punctuated with the dash in my second option, to set up the pause for the punchline. If there was no joke, there would be no dash:

For Halloween, I dressed as a student. I went knocking on doors and got a ton of candy.


As a footnote, there's nothing wrong with "dressed up as," but I opted to use the more concise "dressed as." Either one makes sense, and they are both valid in this context.

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  • Hi, is this sentence grammatically correct? "I dressed as a student, knocked on my teacher's door, (and) then the teacher gave me extra homework?" Can I insert the "and" or does that force parallelism?
    – user59768
    Jan 3, 2014 at 16:57
  • The sentence you've asked about here is just fine: I dressed as a student, knocked on my teacher's door, and then the teacher gave me extra homework. I prefer the option with the "and"; if any word could be removed, I'd nominate the "then": I dressed as a student, knocked on my teacher's door, and the teacher gave me extra homework. The "then" is implied because the sentence reads like a sequence of events.
    – J.R.
    Jan 3, 2014 at 21:15
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knocking would be used in a sentence like

For a Halloween event I dressed up as a student; knocking on my teacher's doors only got me more homework.

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  • Somehow, I think your sentence is problematic. Jan 3, 2014 at 10:52
  • How so? it's not the best possible sentence, I do accept. But it's the only way to use "knocking" properly. A possible edit is "but" instead of "so"...
    – Stark07
    Jan 3, 2014 at 10:55
  • I couldn't tell exactly why I think it's problematic. But I think at least this use of so is. I'm not even sure how to interpret this so. It's not the same to so do I or Who says so?. It's not I'm so in love. It's not It's more expensive to travel on Friday, so I'll leave on Thursday. It's not She's staying here for six months so that she can perfect her English. Jan 3, 2014 at 11:08
  • "so" as in "as a result of which"....
    – Stark07
    Jan 3, 2014 at 11:09
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    The sentence does have a few problems: (1) there's the "teacher's doors" problem – which I just explained in a comment to the O.P. (2) You can dress up for a Halloween event, but you wouldn't go knocking on doors – an "event" is more like a private party. For trick-or-treating, you simply dress up "for Halloween." (3) I think the word "so" reads awkward as a conjunction in this context; it sounds "forced." Here's how I'd recommend saying it: I dressed up as a student for Halloween; knocking on my teacher's door only got me more homework.
    – J.R.
    Jan 3, 2014 at 11:33

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