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Being sick, he, nevertheless, left home to go to work.

Getting sick, he, nevertheless, decided to come to work.

Are these sentences grammatical? Do they make sense? I am concerned about whether it is possible to start a sentence with a gerund and to use a verb in the past simple, like in my examples.

  • I've been taught that "nevertheless" is to show contrasts between two sentences, not two elements of the sentence. They don't seem legit to me. – M.A.R. Feb 1 '15 at 16:53
  • Are you doing an exercise where you are required to start with a gerund, or are you looking for an idiomatic way to express the idea? Those sentences are not grammatical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 1 '15 at 17:13
  • @TRomano I would like to learn about idiomatic phrases to express this idea and a possibility of using the gerund this way. The examples are mine. – user11470 Feb 1 '15 at 17:21
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1: Don't use the commas around "nevertheless."

2: You need to start it with an "although" or similar.

3: I don't think you get to use a gerund with "nevertheless." Or at least not a gerund alone.

So: "Though he was sick, he nevertheless left home to go to work." "Although he was getting sick, he nevertheless decided to come to work."

Or: "He was sick, but nevertheless came to work to infect us all."

(If you use "Being sick," then you would have to use something logical for the condition of sickness -- you can't have "nevertheless." "Being sick, he called work to say he was staying home. Being considerate, he called out sick so he did not infect us all. Being sensible, we told him to stay home." The "nevertheless" indicates an unexpected, illogical, or contrary outcome. "Nevertheless, our boss called him back and told him to get to the office! Being upset about this, we all hope he coughs on the boss.")

  • Thanks. Would the sentences be logical if I omitted "nevertheless" from my examples and left the rest unchanged? – user11470 Feb 1 '15 at 17:37
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    Generally, no. The action taken needs to "agree" logically with the gerund, or at least not "disagree." He didn't go to work because he was sick, so you can't say "being sick, he went to work." You could use other sentences to force that sentence to work in a literary fashion, but it will be unusual-sounding at best, or require a modifier of some kind. ("He was not dead, despite the horrible night. Being only sick, he went to work.") – A.Beth Feb 1 '15 at 17:44
  • You mentioned that I would need a modifier. What kind of modifier could you recommend in this case? In your example, 'only' is a modifier of 'sick', right? I am not sure whether a clause can be a modifier of another clause. – user11470 Feb 1 '15 at 19:02
  • I want to express two independent facts about a person in one sentence, that is, his or her physical state and his or her actions that are not dependent on his or her state but accompanied by disease. As I've understood from your explanation, a gerund form cannot be applied for this purpose unless used with a modifier. Am I right? – user11470 Feb 1 '15 at 19:03
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    Yeah, generally you can't use a gerund form for that purpose, unless there's some kind of modifier -- and sometimes not even then. (E.g., "Being only sick (and not dead), he went to work" is a pretty specialized one.) The phrase after the gerund will have to relate to the gerund in some logical fashion. For this one, "Though he was sick, he went to work" would work. Or "He was sick, but went to work anyway." – A.Beth Feb 1 '15 at 21:19
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Colloquial:

He went into work even though he was coming down with something.

He was feeling sick but came into work anyway.

He was running a fever but went into the office in spite of it.

As sick as he was, he still went into the office.

Less colloquial:

Although he was feeling ill, he went into the office nevertheless.

  • The phrase 'as sick as he was' caught my attention. Does it mean that he is ill to an extreme degree? Can I supstitute 'he was so ill' for this phrase? – user11470 Feb 2 '15 at 18:10
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    It doesn't mean "extreme" so much as "too sick" to do what he did. One could say "As sick as he was, he still watched the football game on TV." He might have had only a 24-hour flu, with some nausea and a slight fever, say, nothing life-threatening. But sick enough that one might think he would have stayed in bed and rested. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 2 '15 at 22:43
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Actually good style is to say things in a natural way and not in the most complicated way. So I would formulate:

He went to work though he was sick

And not:

Being sick, he, nevertheless, left home to go to work.

Such a sentence has the smell of school exercises, i.e. sentences are generated without conveying an idea and feeling what is natural and simple language.

In your sentence I would see the following flaws:

1 Transforming a simple subordinate clause into a participle construction is a stylistic figure of elevated written language. Have you heard participle constructions in colloquial language?

2 The two contrary ideas - sick and going to work - clearly express the idea of oppposition. So "nevertheless" actually isn't necessary.

3 If you go to work you normally have to leave your home. So to state "he left home" to go to work is a banality.

Simple sentences would be:

1 He was sick but he went to work (all the same).

2 He was sick, nevertheless he went to work.

3 Though he was sick he went to work.

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