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I have read from a previous post: What part of speech is "instructing ..." here?

1.The editor at once sent the journalist a telegram instructing him to find out the exact number of steps and the height of the wall.

The comment says,

"Instructing" is modifying the noun "telegram".

But how can we exclude the possibility that "instructing" takes "the editor" as its implied subject?

I think of another sentence:

2.Later he wrote me a letter apologizing for not lending me a hand.

"Apologizing" surely means "he apologizes".

So can we similarly understand that, in the first sentence, it is "the editor" that is instructing?

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This: - The editor at once sent the journalist a telegram instructing him to find out the exact number of steps and the height of the wall.

can be rewritten like this:

  • The editor at once sent the journalist a telegram that instructed him to find out the exact number of steps and the height of the wall.

These gerund phrases are modifiers. There are no implied subjects here at all. In rewriting them, they become relative clauses.

Just like this one: - Later he wrote me a letter apologizing for not lending me a hand.

can be rewritten as:

  • Later he wrote me a letter and apologized for not lending me a hand.

Please bear in mind that usually a person apologizes for something so the first version of this sentence is not the best writing.

That would be: Later he wrote me a letter and apologized for not lending me a hand.

These ing forms at the end of sentences can be turned into relative clauses or a compound sentence and keep the same meaning.

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    You could also write, "Later he wrote me a letter in which he apologized for not lending me a hand." – Fremont the boy bug Apr 24 '20 at 18:44
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    @Fremonttheboybug There are tens of possibilities. One can't go into every one. – Lambie Apr 24 '20 at 18:58
  • Of course you're correct, and I didn't intend to clutter the comments. I was actually considering both answers, and thought my example (a comment on the 2nd answer) addressed the situation at the end of the 1st: 'It may be confusing to think of a telegram (an inanimate object) "giving instructions"... ' and unfortunately, I do tend to go into 'every one.' ;) – Fremont the boy bug Apr 24 '20 at 19:06
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"Instructing" modifies "telegram." This becomes clearer if you leave the telegram out of the sentence. In that case, you would have to say, "The editor instructed him to find out the exact number of steps..." You wouldn't use a gerund.

Another way to think of it is that "instructing" could be re-written was "which [or that] instructed," again referring to the telegram. "The editor at once sent the journalist a telegram that instructed him to find out the exact number of steps and the height of the wall."

You could also say, "The journalist received a telegram instructing him..." Mentioning the editor isn't even necessary.

It may be confusing to think of a telegram (an inanimate object) "giving instructions" but in English, we often refer to written forms of language (books, telegrams, letters, etc.) as directly giving us guidance or directions.

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