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  1. Robby is so perplexed not being told about the accident.

  2. Maudy always gets nervous when talking to strangers.

Both sentences have a predicative adjective as a subject complement. My confusion is about those two phrases after the adjectives. As far as i could tell, you can't put a gerund phrase after an adjective because it acts as a noun. It can be a subject, an object, an object of preposition, or a complement but not an adverb.

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  • The first sentence is not grammatically correct. You should write "Robby is so perplexed about not being told about the accident." – randomhead Mar 20 at 2:12
  • @randomhead Not so; it's less likely but it's not grammatically invalid. Think of it as an emotional state, e.g. by replacing "perplexed" with "unhappy", and it should parse. – Luke Sawczak Mar 20 at 3:40
  • @LukeSawczak: You're right, and the same could be said about the second example, where we could discard adverbial when before the continuous verb (Maudy always gets nervous talking to strangers). But it works much better in the second case, because the relationship between being nervous and talking to strangers is so familiar to us we don't need it to be spelled out. Being perplexed and not being told about something aren't so obviously things that naturally go together though, so even if it's grammatically correct, #1 is very much less likely (and a bit "clumsy", imho). – FumbleFingers Mar 20 at 17:15
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'1. Robby is so perplexed not being told about the accident. 2. Maudy always gets nervous when talking to strangers.'

Example 1 has part of the 'so...that' correlative conjunction pair, hence 'that' should come in.

'1. Robby is so perplexed not being told about the accident [that phrase].'

Alternatively, you can choose another intensifier, 'very', or just remove the 'so'.

  1. Robby is perplexed not being told about the accident.

Example 2 is fine.

The phrases 'not being told about the accident' and 'when talking to strangers' are fine to follow their respective adjectives.

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  • "so" can be used an intensifier. e.g. "I am so mad". – Acccumulation Apr 22 at 18:20
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If by "gerunds", you mean "being" and "talking", in this case those are not gerunds, they are present participles. In your second example, the gerund phrase is introduced by the adverb "while", creating an adverbial phrase. In the first example, "not being told about the accident" is an adjectival phrase, so must modify the subject rather than the predicate. The sentence would make more sense with a comma after "perplexed", making "not being told about the accident" an appositive phrase. Or "about" could be put between "perplexed" and "not".

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