1. The family name may appear on the left side or the right side of the door, depends on which floor you are on.

  2. A careful driver watches the road and goes slowly or quickly depending upon the condition of the road.

In 1 sentence it uses depends while in 2 depending. why? Is there any rule regarding uses of depending on or depend on?

  • 2
    The first sentence isn't syntactically valid. You could fix it by inserting ", which" after name (making a comma-delimited non-restrictive relative clause). Or by inserting it after the existing comma (which would then be better as a full stop, semicolon, or dash, since what follows is then an independent clause with its own subject and predicate. – FumbleFingers Dec 22 '14 at 16:54

Some new examples

  1. His success in the interview depends on the interviewer.
  2. He could do well in the interview, depending on the interviewer.

To understand the difference between depends in sentence (1) and depending on in sentence (2), we need to understand the grammar of the sentences.

In sentence (1) depends is a verb. It is the main verb in the sentence. The subject of depends is the noun phrase, his success in the interview.

In sentence (2) the main clause in the sentence is:

  • He could do well in the interview

The main verb phrase in that clause is could do. The subject is he. The part at the end of sentence (2), depending on the interviewer, gives us extra information. It is not essential for the grammar, or for the meaning. This means that it is an adjunct. It is extra.

In sentence (2) depending on the interviewer is a preposition phrase. In this sentence depending looks like a verb - but it is not! It is a preposition. This preposition takes another preposition on as a complement. In example (2), the complement of on is the interviewer. This gives us one big preposition phrase:

  • depending on the interviewer.

The Original Poster's question

We use depending on to add on extra information to a sentence or clause. We use the verb depend when we need to use a verb.

The Original Poster's examples both need the preposition construction depending on/upon. This is because they are adding extra information to a full clause. I have put the main clause in brackets, [ ], below:

  1. [ The family name may appear on the left side or the right side of the door ] depending on which floor you are on.

  2. [ A careful driver watches the road and goes slowly or quickly ] depending upon the condition of the road.

The part in bold tells us what the situation in the main clause depends on. We can divide the sentences into two parts, so that we have two sentences for each example:

  1. [The family name may appear on the left side or the right side of the door ]. This depends on which floor you are on.

  2. [ A careful driver watches the road and goes slowly or quickly ]. This will depend upon the condition of the road.

In the examples above, the word this refers to the situation which we described in the first sentence. The word this is the subject of the second sentences. So this time we use the verb depend not the preposition depending.

Hope this is helpful!

  • Not to disagree (because I do agree with your answer), but I'm not sure if it's safe enough to call depending a preposition. I believe that CGEL (which I don't have) analyzes this kind of phrase as a PP (prepositional phrase, not very sure about the -al part, though), but maybe they avoid calling depending a preposition right out. – Damkerng T. Dec 22 '14 at 18:29
  • @damkerng, Alas I don't have it with me either. But I think I remember it correctly. I believe they class it as a prep, but am not sure. Will check when I get back:) Thanks! – Araucaria Dec 22 '14 at 19:03
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    @F.E. ... and maybe someone else will answer it :) Might use the X-mas break to do a few of those posts that really, really are very overdue ;) – Araucaria Dec 22 '14 at 23:04
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    @DamkerngT. It seems that H&P don't actually discuss depending. However, they do discuss similar prepositions such as according in the prepositional construction according to as well as the prepositions owing and pertaining which both also take prepositional complements headed by to. The preposition depending also seems to be very similar to the prepositions barring, excluding, failing, providing, given, regarding, following and so forth. Cf pp. 564, 610-611 if you get a chance to look at a copy of CaGEL. :) – Araucaria Dec 23 '14 at 4:21
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    @Araucaria Thank you very much for the info. If only I had a copy of CGEL... :-) – Damkerng T. Dec 23 '14 at 4:25

If the sentence is continued, I'd go for depending. If you want to use the simple tense, it looks more natural when used to re-introduce what it 'depends' on.

Compare:

The family name may appear on the left side or the right side of the door, depending on which floor you are on.

over

The family name may appear on the left side or the right side of the door. It depends which floor you are on.

  • 1
    The first one isn't continuous, it isn't a verb old bean! – Araucaria Dec 22 '14 at 18:20
  • @Araucaria I meant 'continued' (not in the context of 'tenses'). – Maulik V Dec 23 '14 at 5:10

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