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Can I say:

The client sent me a letter asking if we could change the information for them.

or should it be:

The client sent me a letter and asked if we could change the information for him.

I'm confused with the first one, why past tense can be used with verb+ing?

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    The grammar of your title question (Is it this grammar correct? is already not correct. How should we explain the grammar to you? Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 22:48

1 Answer 1

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The client sent me a letter asking if we could change the information for them.

This sentence is OK grammatically. But mind that in most contexts it would mean:

The client sent me a letter. The letter contained his request to change some information for the client.

The second sentence is also grammatical:

The client sent me a letter and asked if we could change the information for him.

But note the difference in meaning:

The client sent me a letter. He also asked (by phone, or personally, or in other way, but not in the letter) if we could change some information for him.

To make the second sentence identical in meaning to the first, use the relative pronoun that:

The client sent me a letter that asked if we could change the information for him.

If you want to investigate the grammar behind all this, read up on "relative clauses" (they use relative pronouns like that) and "participial clauses" (they use verbs ending in -ing and -ed).

You ask:

I'm confused with the first one, why past tense can be used with verb+ing?

Because the verb+ing (present participle) really connects not to the verb sent but to the noun letter:

  • What kind of letter? - Letter asking if we could change some information.
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  • What's the subject of the verb asking? Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 19:50
  • Letter, I guess. I could be wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong, @Araucaria. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 5:10
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    +1, nice post. :) -- Don't worry, CopperKettle, the member @Araucaria is soon gonna be putting up some answer posts, and he'll get his comeuppance then. Be sure to collect a basket or two full of tomatoes, for that day is coming very soon. :D
    – F.E.
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 1:57
  • @F.E.: Getting corrections is the best way to learn a grammar! (0: Is the definite article necessary before "member Araucaria"? Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 5:44
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    Usually, for that "member" has already come up in this discussion, and so, we use "the" to refer to old info. Also, "the" would be used anyway because we're talking about a specific person: "the member (known as) Araucaria". :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 6:02

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