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"Looking at the first and second stages of the process, there are three ways of collecting data."

I saw this sentence in an IELTS diagram report but im not sure of the grammar.

Do we have a reduced adjective clause here?

Is "looking at the first and second stages of the process" describing "there"?

But it doesnt seem so.

What is the original version of the sentence?

I'll be grateful if someone helps me out.

  • By "original" do you mean "canonical"? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 31 '18 at 12:53
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[Looking at the first and second stages of the process], there are three ways of collecting data.

The bracketed element is a non-finite clause functioning as a supplementary adjunct. Supplements are not modifiers; rather, they have a semantic 'anchor' that they refer to. Here the anchor is the main clause "there are three ways of collecting data", though the supplement does not describe "there", which simply has an existential meaning here.

Like most non-finite clauses, it has no overt subject, though one is usually recoverable from the main clause. Here, however, no subject for the verb "looking" is recoverable from the main clause and hence it is similar to what prescriptivists call the 'dangling participle' construction.

Generally though, examples like yours are regarded as acceptable. The understood subject is roughly recoverable from the context as the speaker or the speaker and addressee together.

I don't know what you mean by the 'original version of the sentence', so I can't help you there.

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Looking at is being used to mean "Regarding" in "With regard to" or "With respect to".

Regarding the first and second stages of the process, there are three ways of collecting data.

Looking at your car, Mr Conte, I'm afraid it needs a new transmission.

Whatever you want to call that first clause or phrase, its function is to focus on the topic of conversation. It doesn't modify any particular word in the main clause. Turning (our) attention to X, ....

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