Can a subordinate clause modify two clauses when it is at the end?

Example 1

He was eating bread and his family got up when you arrived.

"when you arrived" modifying "He was eating bread" and "his family got up."

Example 2

He and his wife takes turning doing their hobbies when the children are not at home. He does exercises or his wife goes fishing when their children are at school.

"when their children are at school" modifying "He does exercises" and "his wife goes fishing."

  • This would be the same in French or Spanish or Italian. So, it really is not an English question. Right?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


Example 1 sounds odd because it combines an ongoing activity (eating) with a single action (got up). You could say:

He was still eating although his wife was starting to clear the table when you arrived.

Example 2 works better (though it should be he and his wife take turns)

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