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I came across a part in an English book explaining that these two sentences below are interchangeable, but is it true?

1)The unexpected popularity of the new toy has taken everyone by surprise, resulting in a shortage of stock at some stores.

2)The unexpected popularity of the new toy has taken everyone by surprise, which resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores.

Someone has told me that in 1) what resulted in a shortage of stock is "the unexpected popularity of the new toy", whereas in 2) it will be the whole sentense before comma, and now I'm a bit confused.

I would appreciate more precise explanation on the difference between the use of ", resulting in" and ", which result in".

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  • Can you simplify everything by Posting two new versions of each example, one dealing solely with 'The unexpected popularity of the new toy…' and the other only with 'everyone being taken by surprise…' Anyone here could do that for and would that work as well? Jan 25, 2023 at 21:04

3 Answers 3

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To be honest, both those sentences are badly written, because the surprise hasn't resulted in the shortage - the popularity has.

I would have said:

The unexpected popularity of the new toy has taken everyone by surprise and has resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores.

The reason I would also remove the word 'unexpected' is because it is a redundancy. If it has taken everyone by surprise then of course it was unexpected. Did you say you got these sentences from an English book??

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  • Nice answer, but I believe there's an even bigger problem with sentence 2 that makes it sound awkward regardless of the intended meaning. Sentence 1 sounds fine, but (like you said) would have to mean that the surprise caused the shortage (which is perfectly reasonable, since if the popularity hadn't been a surprise, the supply might have kept up with the demand). But, sentence 2 does not carry this connotation in my opinion: the relative pronoun "which" can only refer to "popularity" and not to "surprise" (maybe because "surprise" is inside a prepositional phrase modifier?) Dec 12, 2023 at 5:50
  • While "popularity" is the subject of the sentence. So, since it has to modify the word "popularity," which occurs towards the beginning of the sentence, this means that the entire relative clause is misplaced. Sentence 2 could thus be fixed by rearranging it to "The unexpected popularity of the new toy, which resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores, has taken everyone by surprise." Dec 12, 2023 at 5:51
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Both sentences tell us the surprise caused the shortage of stock.

There are ways to make that clearer, there are ways to say the popularity caused the shortage, and there are ways to blame both the popularity AND the surprise.

Your question should perhaps ask how to say what you want to say.

Btw, there is a mistake in the grammar:

In the second sentence the tense is inconsistent, changing from the present perfect to the past. It should be either

". . . took everyone . . . resulted"

or

". . . has taken everyone . . . has resulted"

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"Resulting in" is present tense; "which resulted in" is past tense.

Both sentences are a bit clumsy - there's an element of redundancy in saying the popularity of the toy was both unexpected and took everyone by surprise.

The second sentence is mixing tenses by stating that the popularity of the toy "has taken everyone by surprise" (present tense) and also "which resulted in" (past tense).

"resulting in a shortage of stock" is present tense and implies the stock shortage is ongoing. "which resulted in a shortage of stock" is past tense, and implies the current stock shortage is over.

They would be better phrased as:

"1) The popularity of the new toy has taken everyone by surprise, resulting in a shortage of stock at some stores."

"2) The popularity of the new toy has taken everyone by surprise, which has resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores."

If you did want to refer to these in the past tense, then:

"1) The popularity of the new toy took everyone by surprise and resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores."

"2) The popularity of the new toy took everyone by surprise, which resulted in a shortage of stock at some stores."

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