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When reading a story, I often see sentences like this

"The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth"

I think the original sentence should be "The ogre smiled and showed his rotten teeth" or "The ogre smiled while showing his rotten teeth"which is reduced into "The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth".

I also notice they often use this kind of structure with verbs with direct speech.

For example, "He said 'I don't know', scratching his head"

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    Either showing or which showed can be used to indicate that the second statement is in some way closely connected to the first statement. Connecting the two statements with and tends to weaken that connection - which is even weaker if the two statements are presented as separate sentences (The ogre smiled. He showed his rotten teeth). Because of the real-world meanings of these two specific statements, the connection is obvious anyway, but with different texts, these stylistic choices could affect how the utterances are interpreted. Apr 7, 2023 at 11:10

2 Answers 2

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Sentences like "The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth" are good English. The part "showing his rotten teeth" is a participle clause, which acts adverbially in that it tells us how he smiled, or what the result of his smile was. It is a "supplemental adjunct" in CEGL-speak, loosely attached to the main clause and providing some additional context.

This can also be used to indicate an action that occurs at the same time as the main action, and is linked to the main action in some way. The man scratches his head as he speaks, as a gesture to indicate that he is thinking about a problem to which he doesn't know the answer.

Rephrasing with "and" is usually possible. The example with the ogre works fine in both phrasings. Phrasing with "and" can suggest a sequence of actions. "He said, I don't know", and scratched his head." suggests he might have scratched his head after speaking. The participle form is better in that example.

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  • Do you have a source mentioning this?
    – Tom
    Apr 7, 2023 at 10:25
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    This is what CEGL would call supplementary adjunct. BillJ has written about these over on english.stackexchange.com/questions/306036/…
    – James K
    Apr 7, 2023 at 10:36
  • Do you have a proper source written by experts, like ones from Grammarly or Cambridge or the like?
    – Tom
    Apr 7, 2023 at 10:52
  • @Tom: Would you consider chatGPT a "proper" source? What it says looks solid to me. Apr 7, 2023 at 11:18
  • Howe about nagelhout.faculty.unlv.edu/AGiC/s5i.html It uses slightly different terminology - but you should be familiar with the fact that if you put three grammarians in a room you will get seven inconsistent sets of terminology...
    – James K
    Apr 7, 2023 at 11:38
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I asked chatGPT What is the difference between "The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth" and "The ogre smiled, and showed his rotten teeth" and got this...


The difference between "The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth" and "The ogre smiled, and showed his rotten teeth" is the way the action of showing the teeth is described.

In the first sentence, "showing his rotten teeth" is a participial phrase that describes the way the ogre smiled. This construction implies that the act of showing the teeth was a natural part of the smiling, and the two actions occurred simultaneously.

In the second sentence, "and showed his rotten teeth" is a coordinating conjunction that joins two independent clauses. This construction implies that the act of showing the teeth was a separate action that followed the smiling.

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    If the OP wanted an AI answer he can ask for it himself. There is a general policy of "No AI answers", even if they are coincidentally correct.
    – James K
    Apr 7, 2023 at 11:25
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    This is what I got from Chatgpt and it is a bit different from yours "The first sentence, "The ogre smiled, showing his rotten teeth" implies that the ogre smiled in a way that exposed his rotten teeth. The second sentence, "The ogre smiled, and showed his rotten teeth" suggests that the ogre intentionally showed his rotten teeth after smiling. The addition of "and" in the second sentence makes the action of showing the teeth more deliberate."
    – Tom
    Apr 8, 2023 at 2:50
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    I asked ChatGPT "Is it correct to say "My tire has a flat"?" And it answered "Yes, it is correct to say "My tire has a flat." This means that the tire is no longer inflated with air and has lost its shape." I remembered someone telling me that was wrong because "a flat" means "a flat tire". So you can not say "A tire has a flat tire"
    – Tom
    Apr 8, 2023 at 3:23
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    ... and despite anything I said on the ELL Meta question Is it on topic to ask about English advice given by ChatGPT?, I happen to think chatGPT is potentially an invaluable resource for learners. Especially when used with care, which I think I have done here. Apr 8, 2023 at 12:39
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    You are right! So I asked on Meta: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5878/…
    – James K
    Apr 8, 2023 at 13:19

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