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Narrator: Her husband Carl always teased her about her macaroni and cheese, saying it was the only thing she knew how to cook, and she rarely made it well.

TV Series: Desperate Housewives

I don't know why the narrator used the -ing form of the verb "saying". How it would be like if the narrator didn't want to use the -ing form of the verb?

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That non-finite form saying expresses the idea that over the course of their relationship ("Carl always teased her") he would say those words, that mac-and-cheese was the only thing she knew how to cook: those are words he said when teasing her.

If you wanted to use a tensed form of the verb to say to express the same idea, you would have to say something like whenever or often in combination with the verb:

He always teased her about her cooking and often said it was the only thing she knew how to cook.

or whenever

He always teased her about her cooking and whenever he did so he said it was the only thing she knew how to cook.

or always

He always teased her about her cooking and he always said it was the only thing she knew now to cook.

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    In this case, it could be that the non-finite saying matches the always, but a single instance of teasing could have been described with the non-finite verb, too. E.g. One time, her husband teased her, saying that dinner tasted more like wackaroni and sleeze. – Juhasz Jan 18 at 17:24
  • Agreed. when teasing her would cover both cases. The action of the non-finite clause attends the action of the main clause. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 18 at 17:32
  • Thank you so much for your reply. He always teased her about her cooking and whenever he or she?(it is confusing) did so he said it was the only thing she knew how to cook. – samsam Jan 18 at 17:49
  • Carl is her husband, so Carl is the "he" referred to. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 18 at 17:58
  • @samsam FWIW, one could use "she" there, making the statement "He always teased her about her cooking and whenever she did so he said [whatever]". In that case, it would mean that whenever she cooked, he said [whatever], as opposed to Tᴚoɯɐuo's version which means that whenever he teased her about her cooking, he said [whatever]. – A C Jan 18 at 21:14
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A very useful pattern in English for/in writing.

  • They loved the outdoors, describing it as a healing experience.

A gerund can be used after a statement to qualify it.

The gerund phrase can be used as a substitute for "and". It can be more elegant than:

They loved the outdoors and described it as a healing experience.

  • The journalists spent all day at the conference, reading press releases and drinking tea. [versus: and read press release and drank tea]

  • The lady disliked cats, complaining that they scratched her furniture. [versus: and complained they scratched her furniture.]

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