OP: The driver was standing by the car smoking a cigarette as they emerged from the house.

In the sentence above, may I change it into "The driver was standing by the car and was smoking a cigarette as they emerged from the house." without affecting the meaning?

I consider it a usage of participle clause reducing. Because I saw a usage like "she arrived home and left the shoes on in the container = she arrived home, leaving the shoes in the container", and the poster says that when two actions have the same subject, then the second action can be reduced to ING form.

Does the OP's sentence is actaully equal to what I think? and if so, shouldn't the comma be left before the first action "smoking a cigarette"?

I can slightly notice that it might be a adverbial participle clause, like "I can bolt down all the burgers using my mouth" but I personally think it is not the same thing.

Plus, when it comes to reduced participle clause "and left the shoes=leaving the shoes" I mentioned before, is it confined to only the past tense? Can I use it in simple present or past continuous or future tense or present perfect tense and so forth? For example like "she has been studying and has been answering the question = she has been studying, answering the question" "she get the money and go to the club = she get the money, going to the club" or something example like this.

2 Answers 2


Grammatically, OP's suggested revision (repeating was) is perfectly valid, but stylistically it's awful.

That's because the "primary" subject of the entire utterance is almost certainly they, not the driver. But repeating the verb associated with the secondary subject effectively "elevates" the importance of the driver, making it seem like he's the main focus of the narrative.

To show how repeating the verb (and the subject, in my example, which simply increases the degree of emphasis) has this effect, consider...

We both smoke, so why did she tell you to quit, but not me?
Because you opened the door and you were smoking a cigarette when/as she arrived.


You can change the sentence, but it sounds better as: The driver was standing by the car**,** smoking a cigarette as they emerged from the house. Its just more correct and is a better use of English. You are right about the comma, I put in in the sentence in my answer in bold.

  • Could you tell me the non-abbreviated form of this sentence?I mean,how to change it into a normal sentence without participle clause? Should it be like"the driver was standing by the car and was smoking a cigarrette as they emerged from the house"?
    – 오준수
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 1:51
  • And I wish you could take a look at my fourth part of question and tell me about it...that is what I want to know most..
    – 오준수
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 1:53
  • The comma solves another issue. It makes clear it was the driver smoking the cigarette (so few cars do these days). :-)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 20:02

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