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" _____________ staying at the hotel last year, we decided to go again."

a) Enjoying

b) Having enjoyed

c) Had enjoyed

d) Had been enjoying

Which one is right choice? I think because of " last year " it is b or c. and which grammar subject should I study to learn about more on these kind of questions?

Thank you

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  • I will try to write an explanation using "linguistic jargon" if you want to try and read up on it. Jan 4, 2015 at 14:31
  • I've written an answer but I could have made some mistakes, being a non-native speaker. Let's wait what the natives will have to say. Jan 4, 2015 at 14:55
  • Even with two finite verbs, the structure seems rummy: ?Since we enjoyed catching fish on the river last night, we decided to go again. To do it again seems better. Go just seems not to be able to mean do here. I dunno. I don't like using go to refer to the activity.??
    – user6951
    Jan 4, 2015 at 15:20
  • ?While we were enjoying fishing on the river last night, we decided to go again is even worse to me. I am not sure if one can decide to go to somewhere one already is... Maybe come again? An adverb (here/there) after go helps. Or maybe it has to to with the past tense of decide. I dunno. Something's off. Maybe me.
    – user6951
    Jan 4, 2015 at 15:30
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    Having enjoyed is (still) the best pick of participle, just as @CopperKettle demonstrated. But I don't use a lot of participles when I write, so maybe I am prejudiced against the sentence just for that alone.
    – user6951
    Jan 4, 2015 at 15:45

2 Answers 2

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.. staying at the hotel last year, we decided to go again.

There is no subject (a word like "we") in any of the options proposed for the part of the sentence up to the comma (for the clause ".. staying at the hotel last year").

This means the two clauses, the one before and the one after the comma, are linked very hard. So hard that one of these clauses cannot be used on its own as a separate sentence. Let's check:

We decided to go again. (clause 2)

It is unclear where we decided to go exactly, but this is still a valid sentence. This means it's an independent clause.

Enjoying/Having enjoyed/Had enjoyed/Had been enjoying staying at the hotel last year. (clause 1)

When we apply any of the 4 options, the sentence does not become valid (on its own, without clause 2 attached). It could become valid if we add a subject like "we" in some of the options.

For example, the whole sentence could become valid with option c if we imagine an omitted we in clause 1 and use a semicolon instead of the comma:

(We) had enjoyed staying at the hotel last year; we decided to go again. (option c with some modifications)

But since there's no subject like "we" and there's a comma, it's much more likely that clause 1 is meant to be dependent upon clause 2: it should merely add to the meaning of clause 2, not be a standalone ("independent") clause.

Option d would not work for the same reason, moreover, it uses the Past Perfect Progressive: there should be a mention of a past event after which your "enjoyment" stopped.

This leaves us with two options, a and b. Each of these options uses a non-finite verb, hence each of this options makes clause 1 a non-finite clause.

Enjoying staying at the hotel last year, we decided to go again.

We could imagine a family making a decision while being in the process of enjoyment, but the sentence looks strange for some reason. Maybe a native speaker will explain. Maybe a non-finite clause is insufficient to carry the sense "while we were enjoying".

Having enjoyed staying at the hotel last year, we decided to go again.

This sentence is right on the spot: the non-finite clause explains the reason why we decided to go to the hotel again. To be more precise, clause 1 is what is called a participial clause or participle clause.

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  • You're welcome! But also wait for comments/answers by others. Jan 4, 2015 at 15:12
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    The participle selection fits, but the logic/semantics of the whole sentence bothers me. Could just be me. I'm just saying I don't think I'd say it the way it is written.
    – user6951
    Jan 4, 2015 at 15:50
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    Minor nitpick: since the part of the sentence before the comma doesn't have a subject, I'm pretty sure it is a phrase (specifically, a participial phrase), not a clause.
    – user14213
    Jan 4, 2015 at 17:18
  • Thanks, @Strants! But I found this page where subjectless clauses are called participial clauses: Jan 4, 2015 at 17:19
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If you make two sentences it is:

  • We had enjoyed staying at the hotel last year. So we decided to go again.

With a participle construction only the following sentence is possible"

  • Having enjoyed staying at the hotel last year we decided to go again.

c/d) Had enjoyed / had been enjoyed: no participle structure. a) "enjoying (present participle) + last year" don't fit together.

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  • It is equally possible, and I wager, more common to say: We enjoyed staying at the hotel last year. So we decided to go again. Both actions are in the past. There is no need to specify that "enjoyed staying" happened first; that can be deduced using common sense. And certainly the so-called present participle can be used with 'last year.' Watching the superbowl last year was lots of fun. The progressive aspect just sees the action as in progress at a specified time. I don't know about the double present participle: ?Enjoying staying at the hotel... It seems marginal. Maybe just 'cause.
    – user6951
    Jan 13, 2015 at 3:19

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