Suppose a person is walking the streets, he's talking on the phone, and he's smoking a cigarette. All at he same time.

So, could we mean the same by saying

"He was walking the streets talking on the phone, smoking a cigarette."

Would that imply he was doing all three things at the same time? And i'm trying to avoid having to use conjunctions. What other ways could we imply he was doing all three things without using words that are not used in the original text, and conjunctions?

  • Multi-tasking!!? :'D Just Kidding. :P – 7_R3X Apr 18 '16 at 7:59
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    Why are we avoiding conjunctions? I would add a comma after "streets", and yeah it does suggest concurrency, but it's also plenty open for interpretation. It could be read as things that were done during the span of time he was out walking. A conjunction may be the only way to be sure. – Alpinwolf Apr 18 '16 at 10:26
  • Since walking the streets implies an extended period of time, longer than it usually takes to smoke a cigarette, your first sentence is messed up. Besides that the use of the past progressive does not have to mean all three actions were happening at the same time. – Alan Carmack Apr 18 '16 at 15:31

We can remodel it to

He was walking along the street, a lit cigarette (stuck) in his mouth, a cellphone pressed against his ear.

I avoided the use of the simple past verb form in the clauses after the commas, and made "cigarette" and "cellphone" subjects.

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    A lit cigarette might call less attention to itself... ;) – Alan Carmack Apr 18 '16 at 15:18
  • @AlanCarmack - thank you! Fixed. I thought of "lighted cigarette" but wasn't sure. – CowperKettle Apr 18 '16 at 16:00
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    Lit, lighted have both seen usage, at various times and places, for both the participle and simple past tense. – Alan Carmack Apr 18 '16 at 16:38

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