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A: How computers affect our everyday life?

B: In a positive way, certainly. They help with so many things, starting from writing and printing your own essay and ending with developing advanced programs and digital editing...


"Overall, there are seven stages in the process, beginning with the digging up of clay and culminating in delivery." (Source)


Do marked phrases modify the whole main clause or just the nouns before them, "so many thing" and "seven stages" ?

For example can I rewrite them as in:

They help with so many things, which start from writing and printing your own essay and end with developing advanced programs and digital editing...


Overall, there are seven stages in the process, which begin with the digging up of clay and culminate in delivery.

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There are a couple of problems here that I think we can help with.


'Starting with' and 'Ending with' really mean 'starting' and 'ending'

Situations with no literal beginning & end:

You can say

  • ✔️ Yes: I like all sports, from baseball to field hockey.

But this sounds awkward:

  • 😕 Awkward: I like all sports, starting with swimming and ending with football.

It doesn't make sense to use starting and ending in this way --- these words are much more literal (Definition) -- use their basic definition.

It's okay to use "from X to Y" if you mean figuratively that you like many things.

So in your example:

  • No: They help with so many things, starting from writing and printing your own essay and ending with developing advanced programs and ...

  • No: They help with so many things, which start from writing and printing your own essay and end with developing advanced programs and...

The problem isn't "starting vs. start", it's that "starting" doesn't make sense here.

  • Lots of people might not start using a computer by writing an essay.
  • Lots of people might not finish using a computer by developing advanced programs... it makes no sense to say "finishing" with this.

Use the figurative "from X to Y" if you need to.

Situations with a literal beginning and end

In this case, it's different; you're talking about stages, which probably means there is a first stage and a last stage:

  • 😐 Fine: "Overall, there are seven stages in the process, beginning with the digging up of clay and culminating in delivery."

and

  • 😐 Fine: "Overall, there are seven stages in the process, which begin with the digging up of clay and culminate in delivery."

These are both fine. There is nothing wrong with them. You are right to have "beginning...culminating" and "begin..culminate", using a consistent tense in each sentence.

Finally, watch your Inversion

In this quote:

A: How computers affect our everyday life?

This does not work as a stand alone question -- it should be

A: How do computers affect our everyday life?

The only time you should see this quote as written is in an informal back-and-forth conversation.

  1. Bob: I've always wanted to ask you a question.
  2. Alice: About what?
  3. Bob: About people and machines.
  4. Alice: How computers affect our everyday life?
  5. Bob: Yes, exactly.

Sentence #4 is acceptable, because it's not trying to actually ask the question -- it's trying to confirm what the question is. This is a very unusual (contrived and esoteric) example.

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