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For starters, I am uploading this question that I have asked over at English Stack Exchange because someone there suggested this might be a better place for it. I did a few google searches and the results didn't really point me in the right direction.

I've been chatting with a Chinese native speaker recently and she asked why I corrected the sentence "Well maybe you can talk to me use voice message" as "Well maybe you can talk to me using voice messages". I was trying to figure out how to explain it but realised that I might not have the most accurate answer.

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  • Hi, welcome to ELL! I trust you will get great answers to this question here, but you need to delete your question on ELU because cross-posting is not allowed across the SE network. – Eddie Kal Jan 27 at 3:57
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Well maybe you can talk to me; use voice message.

would be an instruction to use a voice message rather than some other method.

Well maybe you can talk to me using voice messages.

would be a description of a possible action. Assuming that a command is not intended, the first sentience cannot be correct. The present tense form of the verb "use" can take a subject, which will come before the verb, but the subject will be the thing that does the action, the thing that uses or makes use of.

"Well maybe you can talk to me" is not a noun or a noun phrase, nor can it function as one in this construct.

"using" however is a gerund form. it can often be replaces with "by means of" and that is exatly the intent here. It follows the main clause, and the main verb is "talk". Here "using voice messages." is a secondary clause that explains how the main action (here talking) will be done.

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