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I dreamed up these two sentences. I did some research. It seems that they are both correct. I understand that,in Sentence 1, the implied subject of "accounting" is the subject of the first clause — food. What I don't understand is why Sentence 2 is correct. In Sentence 2, the implied subject of the second clause is not the same as the subject of the first clause.

My grammar book says that we can omit the subject of the second clause and change the verb to the "ing" form when the subject same is the same as the subject of the first clause. It doesn't say that we can do this when the subjects are not the same. In Sentence 2, the subject of the first clause is "families". But what "accounting" needs is "food".

  1. Food was the biggest expenditure for families, accounting for 35% of their weekly income.
  1. Families spent most on food, accounting for 35% of their weekly income.
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  • Why do you think the implied subject is not the same? Common sense says that clearly it is.
    – stangdon
    Sep 13, 2022 at 11:38
  • Thank you very much for your comment. My grammar book says that we can omit the subject of the second clause and change the verb to the "ing" form when the subject same is the same as the subject of the first clause. It doesn't say that we can do this when the subjects are not the same. In Sentence 2, the subject of the first clause is "families". But what "accounting" needs is "food". Sep 13, 2022 at 11:55
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    I think I understand some of the source of the confusion. "accounting for 35% of their weekly income" isn't actually a separate clause, it's what's called a participial phrase. Look up participial phrases and see if that helps!
    – stangdon
    Sep 13, 2022 at 12:19
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    I probably would have never noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out, but the second version indeed doesn't sound quite as natural as the first.
    – cruthers
    Sep 13, 2022 at 13:13
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    @Learner110 sentence 2 sounds quite strange to me, since the structure would indicate that the "families" account for 35% of their weekly income, rather than the food. It is possible there is a way to understand it the way it's intended, especially since the default explanation makes no sense, but it isn't really a natural sentence for that reason.
    – Esther
    Sep 13, 2022 at 13:40

2 Answers 2

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Your grammar book is correct about omitting the subject in the second clause and using "ing" when it's the same as the first clause, and maybe that's a good place for beginner language learners to start, but the rule applies much more broadly than that.

The subject of the second clause can be removed any time that it appears somewhere in the first clause in a way that makes it unambiguous what the "ing" verb refers to. It doesn't even have to appear as a noun in the first sentence. The "ing" verb can not only refer to subjects, but to object nouns, and even clauses:

The grocery store was sold out of bacon, leaving me with no choice but to cancel the camping trip.

In this example, the grocery store isn't the subject of "leaving". It's the entire situation of the grocery store being out of bacon, so the subject of "leaving" is something like, "the fact that the grocery store was sold out of of bacon".

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    Thank you very much for your answer. But why did you use "use" instead of "using" in "your grammar book is correct about omitting the subject in the second clause and use "ing"? Sep 13, 2022 at 14:15
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    @Learner110 Because I rewrote that sentence a couple times and left a mistake. Thanks!
    – gotube
    Sep 13, 2022 at 14:17
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If you ask the question "what accounted for 35% of their weekly income?" the answer in both cases has to be food. 'Their' refers to the families.

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