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What is differences between these sentences :

Sentence 1: you have to be on top of the game, really know what are you doing

Sentence 2: you have to be on top of the game, really knowing what are you doing

Sentence 3: you have to be on top of the game and really know what are you doing

2 Answers 2

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To me 3 sounds like overkill; 1 comes across as a reiteration of the same point, and would be more common in speech, with a comma separating the two iterations, but three makes them sound like different points, which they’re not, really.

1 and 3 have the same meaning though, and would be acceptable.

Where 1 focuses more on the person having knowledge, 2 speaks more of them knowing what they’re doing as they’re doing it.

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(1) is not a valid sentence.

You have to be on top of the game, really know what are you doing.

The clauses in this sentence cannot be joined with only a comma, you need a connecting word if you use it.

Instead of (1), say:

"You have to be on top of the game, and really know what are you doing."

In this case it is also acceptable to not use the comma, and then you get (3).

(3) is OK:

"You have to be on top of the game and really know what are you doing"

(2) is also OK:

You have to be on top of the game, really knowing what are you doing.

(2) and (3) mean the same thing.

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  • 1
    (1) would be common in colloquial speech. One interpretation is that there is a significant amount of ellipsis; it might be considered to be "you have to be on top of the game, [you have to] really know what are you doing". Comma splices are forbidden in some English classes but are common in casual writing - there are a lot of questions about them here and on ELU.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 5, 2023 at 22:40
  • It's not quite a comma splice, strictly speaking - the orphaned clause is not independent! But you're right - I agree that it's OK spoken English in many contexts. However, it's written here - not quoted as dialog, and the reasonable default is that we should advise proper, written, formal English. If it were marked as spoken English or quoted I would have merely noted it's conversational. Also, consider that learners are likely to just be learning the rules of grammar, and as always, one must learn the rules before it's possible to effectively and safely break them!
    – BadZen
    Aug 6, 2023 at 3:31

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