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I came across this website. One member says this:

"If it (present participle) comes after the main phrase, that is what he did afterwards. " And gives example:

a- Tom took off his hat, putting it on the table.


As far as I know, using the present participle after the main clause could indicate what happened as a result. For example:

b- The bomb exploded, destroying the building. (As a result, the building destroyed.)


Is that member right? Can we use "present participle" right after the main clause to indicate "what happened next" even though "what happened next" wasn't the result of the main action as in sentence a?

I think these versions are better than sentence a:

c- Tom took off his hat, then putting it on the table.

d- Tom took off his hat and then put it on the table.

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    @TalhaÖzden In addition to the sequence vs simultaneous axis I mentioned in my answer, I also would note that you can think about ‘result’ a little more broadly: taking off the hat is the cause of its needing to be put somewhere. – Katy Aug 4 at 6:32
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Yes, the present participle after a main clause can indicate what happened next, especially when the actions are closely related.

Generally, the present participle after the main clause gives us information about some aspects of the main clause: purpose (why the action was taken), method (how the action was taken), result (what effect the action had), or time/sequence (when the action was taken).

The bomb exploded, destroying the building.

This example shows us the way the functions of the participle clause overlap. Yes, it indicates what happened as a result, but it also indicates sequence--first the bomb exploded, then it destroyed things.

When a present participle clause describes sequential action, we can replace it with "and [past tense]" and get a sentence that means the same thing:

"The bomb exploded and destroyed the building."

When a present participle clause describes simultaneous action, replacing it with "and [past tense]" either doesn't make sense or changes the meaning.

e.g. "The man crossed the street, looking out for traffic" has a different implication than "The man crossed the street and looked out for traffic."

Present participle clauses describe simultaneous action more frequently than they describe sequential action, but both are valid and grammatical.

To deal with specifics:

In your example, d) is a valid rephrasing that preserves the meaning and sequence of the actions. c) is not grammatical because the verbs are not parallel.

  • Thank you. Do we still use this aspect of the participles if the two actions are not really related? For example: "He came home late and started to study for the exam immediately." to "He came home late, starting to study for the exam immediately." . I don't know if my example is convey the point I am trying to make. – Talha Özden Aug 4 at 11:26
  • Yes, that’s fine because the “immediately” gives us the understanding that the second clause is the result of the first. – Katy Aug 4 at 12:32
  • @Katy Sorry to keep asking. So my example didn't convey my point then. I tried to make those clauses irrelevant. New example: "She wished good night to her kid, brushed her teeth and went to bed." to "She wished good night to her kid, brushing her teeth, going to bed" . Is that okay? – Talha Özden Aug 4 at 13:47
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    @TalhaÖzden No, that doesn't work. First, we can't 'stack' the clauses together like that without an "and" to link them, but second, the sequence aspect typically only works with one participle clause at a time. "She wished good night to her kid, brushing her teeth" (I'd think this is simultaneous) "She wished good night to her kid, going to bed." (This is somewhere between simultaneous and sequential. She was in the process of going when she wished, but she went to bed after wishing). We can stack simultaneous clauses: she crossed the street, talking on her phone and bumping into people. – Katy Aug 5 at 3:24
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The Question is, " even though "what happened next" wasn't the result of the main action as in sentence A?

a- Tom took off his hat, putting it on the table.

Although this sounds wrong as it stands, this is because it is not complete [Note 1] if we add more to the sentence it begins to sound O.K.

Tom took off his hat, putting it on the table next to the newspaper. His wife's picture stared back at him, nestled between the T.V. Guide and the sports results.

In the second of your examples, it is obvious that the building has been destroyed. However what is happening in the sentence is that the writer is emphasising that point. In the first example which is not complete the emphasis is ** not needed**. In my example it now becomes clearer that an indication (emphasis) is needed. The act of putting his hat on the table is pivotal as it brings the picture to his attention.

b- The bomb exploded, destroying the building. (As a result, the building destroyed.)

To answer your question Yes we can use "present participle" right after the main clause to indicate "what happened next.

I will not refer to your items C & D as they have no relevance.

Note 1 When I refer to not complete my meaning is not complete as a piece of writing, it has no reason to exists on it's own in this form. However used in a fuller (different) context it can have meaning.

  • "Tom took off his hat, putting it on the table" is a complete and grammatical sentence. Adding a prepositional phrase has no impact on its grammaticality, and neither does the second sentence you came up with. – Katy Aug 4 at 5:03
  • @Katy I Completely agree with you. However you seem to have completely missed the point I was making. I will review the way I have written the answer to see if that is my fault. Thank you. – Brad Aug 4 at 5:08
  • @Brad Hi, In this sentence, His wife's picture stared back at him, nestled between the T.V. Guide and the sports results, does "nestled" describe the "picture of his wife" ? Can I rewrite that sentences as: "His wife's picture stared back at him, which was nestled between the T.V. Guide and the sports results. – Talha Özden Aug 4 at 7:44
  • nestled in this case is used to describe its location on the page. It had bigger things around it, it was unobtrusive almost as if it were hiding, the surrounding articles protecting it. "which was nestled" is the correct meaning but it looses something when you write it in full. Which was tucked in between would probably be an alternative phrase. – Brad Aug 4 at 8:32

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