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When I was studying English, I saw such a sentence:

'One young man wrote to us saying, "My mother always nags me and my sister."'

What is wrong with this sentence? If there is nothing wrong, how are 'us' and 'saying' connected? By which grammatical rule?

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  • "Us" and "saying" are not connected. The whole of the expression saying, "My mother always nags me and my sister" is an adjunct in which the direct reported speech My mother always nags me and my sister is functioning as complement of "saying".
    – BillJ
    Jan 28, 2022 at 15:29
  • Why it it not ' is saying' ? Jan 29, 2022 at 14:26

3 Answers 3

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It is not connected with "us". You'd better understand it as being connected to "wrote".

Consider a sentence like

He wrote to us quickly.

Now the word "quickly" is an adverb. It is an adjunct (extra word or phrase) that describes how he wrote the letter to us.

Instead of an adverb, you could have a prepositional phrase "He wrote to us from home" or a participle "he wrote to us, eating dinner."

Or you can have a participle phrase which describes what the letter "says" (you can use "say" to describe the words that are written.) That would make the adjunct 'saying "....". And this is the structure of the sentence:

One young man [subject] wrote [verb] to us [complement prep phrase] saying "..." [participle adjunct].

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There is nothing wrong with the sentence; it's just that you are linking the words in the wrong way.

The young man wrote to us (sent us a letter). In the letter he said...

This can be expressed as he sent a letter saying... or he wrote saying.

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  • I am ok with your expressions. If it was like that two, there would be no problem. I still don't understand how this sentence structured with 'wrote us saying' Jan 29, 2022 at 14:25
  • He wrote [sent a letter] to us saying [in which he said]... Does that make it any clearer? Jan 29, 2022 at 16:42
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It would perhaps help you understand if the sentence were better punctuated.

Were I writing it I would put a comma or an em-dash after "us".

The main part of the sentence with an indicative verb is "One young man wrote to us ..."

The rest of it is an adverbial clause describing what his writing was "saying".

One young man wrote to us - saying "My mother always nags me and my sister".

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