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Can I use the '-ing form' in this sentence:

You will know what to do after reading my name in this message.

I don't think I can use the '-ing form' as reading a name is a very short action. Is it right to write:

"I hope my name will ring a bell with you after (or when) reading it."

Or would it be better with present simple- "after you read it."

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    You can use either after reading or after you read, but the expression is ring a bell with you. (The length of the action is irrelevant here. Reading is the gerund, not the continuous tense as in I am reading.) Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 17:34
  • so with a gerund I can use "when reading it "(the length is still irrelevant in this case)
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 17:57
  • I think "WHEN you read it" is better. "Ringing a bell" usually refers to an immediate reaction. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 20:03

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The sentence

You will know what to do after reading my name in this message.

is perfectly valid. The gerund form ("reading" ) used here indicates a process or action, but it may be a very brief one or a very lonhg one. Valid examples would include:

  • You must learn what to do after firing a gun. (very brief action)

  • I don't know what you will do after serving a ten-year sentence. (long process)

  • Rome was stable for am long while after building its empire. (hundreds of years)

The same is true for sentences using "when" instead of "after". "When Xing" means "at the time of doing X" but that time could be an instant or a mater of hundreds of years.

  • You must learn what to do when firing a gun. (very brief action)

  • I don't know how you will manage when serving a ten-year sentence. (long process)

  • Rome used several different methods while it was building its empire. (hundreds of years)

The forms "... after reading it" and "... after you read it." suggested in the question are also valid, and in this case carry much the same meaning.

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  • Is it the same with " when reading my name" or does "when" obligatory refer to the length of the action
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 21:37
  • @Yves Lefol It is the same. My long and short examples could each use "when" instead of "after". "When Xing" means "at the time of doing X" but that time could be an instsnt or a mater of hundreds of years. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 22:09

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