I was told that the following sentence was incorrect because the participle clause has a different subject:

"When deciding punishments for crimes, criminals' intentions are important."

If that's true, then is the following sentence, which I think sounds quite natural, also incorrect?

"When creating a nutrition plan, age is an important factor."

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • The subject of the main clause is not the subject of the participle there. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 22 '18 at 11:42

The when-clause complements are important and is an important factor and could remain at the front of the sentence or be moved to the end of the sentence:

Criminals' intentions are important when deciding punishments for crimes.

Age is an important factor when creating a nutrition plan.

Most native speakers would understand those when-clauses as a kind of impersonal construction, when one is deciding|creating. They would not parse the sentences so that intentions or age is the subject of the when-clause.

  • I think "when deciding punishments for crimes" is a participle adverb, and I am not sure if the OP's original sentence is actually wrong. I mean when it comes to participle adverbs, the only wrong construction comes to my mind is dangling participle which is not the case here. Am I right? – Cardinal May 21 '18 at 23:22
  • 1
    @Cardinal I find nothing wrong with the original construction. I would just say it's less common. – Jason Bassford May 22 '18 at 0:10

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