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Can I replace the verb+ing form sentences below with verb form sentences?

If I replace it, It's like

The 9.0-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that devasted northeastern Japan, killed nearly 16,000 people and caused a nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Are the sentences impossible? Then, what is the difference between two expressions in meaning (killing vs killed, causing vs caused)?

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If you say "devastated... killed... and caused," they are treated as separate actions.

If you say "devastated... killing... and causing," the actions in gerund are treated as linked to the first verb, simultaneous with it, or caused by it.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think those verbs are gerunds. They are simply present participles. – Levyce Mar 16 '18 at 8:22
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Yes, you could, although that would slightly change the meaning of the sentence.

  • verb + 'ed' is the past tense
  • verb + 'ing' is present tense

As it stands right now "killing" and "causing" stand in relation with "devastated". They further explain what happened.

In contrast if you used the suffix -ed for both, the sentence would be more of a enumeration of things, which were caused by the tsunami.

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Grammatically, you can make those changes and give the sentence a parallel structure. However, if that's what you wanted to do, I would recommend using an Oxford comma before the conjunction and:

The 9.0-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, killed nearly 16,000 people, and caused a nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

That's the way a similar sentence is punctuated on this website, which explains parallel constructions:

This afternoon, Harry played tennis, returned overdue library books, and ate a mushroom and pineapple pizza.

However, I prefer the original:

The 9.0-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, killing nearly 16,000 people and causing a nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

That wording suggests that the quake caused the tsunami, and, in turn, the tsunami caused the nuclear disaster and the deaths of 16,000 people. Your suggested revision, however, suggests that the quake was the direct cause of all three calamities – that wording might be more appropriate if, say, many buildings collapsed during the quake, causing most of the deaths.

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