The couple who saw her off were probably her parents. (Make it Simple)

My answer:

The couple seeing her off were probably her parents.

My teacher said that my answer is wrong, and the proper answer should be:

The couple, probably her parents, saw her off.

When I asked why my answer is wrong, he said that the word "seeing" isn't used in these cases and whenever there is a single subject, to make it a simple sentence "ing" is used in the start of the sentence.

I understand that I have used "seeing" as the 3rd word in the sentence, rather than at first; but I don't understand why is that an issue?

  • 7
    The couple drinking beer were my parents. The couple singing loudly were Scottish. The couple eating cheese were arrested. All fine. Your teacher is mistaken. Commented May 19, 2021 at 14:13
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Question\ Difference between "It was someone doing sth or who did sth" Commented May 19, 2021 at 15:22
  • I don't know whether the sentence you wrote is a simple sentence. But simple or not, that sentence is correct. I think there is no wrong use of "seeing" in your sentence. But if the sentence you wrote is not a simple sentence, then your answer is wrong. Commented May 19, 2021 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


Not only is your teacher's evaluation of your sentence at fault (there is nothing wrong with your sentence) but your teacher's paraphrase has a different meaning.

The basic proposition of the original sentence is The couple were probably her parents. Your version preserves that.

The basic proposition of your teacher's sentence is The couple saw her off.

While these both refer to the same situation, they are answers to entirely different questions.

Your teacher's explanation sounds as if they are thinking of the gerund phrase "Seeing her off", which can be the subject of a verb (eg Seeing her off was all I wanted to do.) But that is a different construction from your participial phrase functioning adjectivally, and synonymous with the relative clause who saw her off in the original.


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