Which is the right option to complete the following:

"I do not want to help my mom in the kitchen anymore, this morning while __________onions, my eyes started to cry".


a. peeling
b. I was peeling
c. peel
d. was peeling

In my opinion, both, a) and b) could be possible since a) would be a reduced adverb clause, having originally the same subject in both clauses, whereas b) would be the original common adverb clause. Am I wrong? or is it "b" the only "option and why?

  • 2
    (b) is the only correct choice; (a) "while peeling onions, my eyes started to cry" would sound awkward cos it'd mean your eyes peeled onions, no?
    – user1677
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:05
  • 1
    "Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful. Reaching the station, the sun came out. ... this kind of sentence is incorrect in standard English." -- Dangling modifier clauses
    – user1677
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


If you use (a) you introduce the idea that it was not I who was peeling onions, but it was my eyes which were peeling onions. Although taken as a whole sentence, most people would use common sense to figure out what or who was peeling onions, still it's probably best not to leave yourself open to such a humorous interpretation–unless you're trying to be funny.

Therefore (b) is probably the answer this test is looking for.


She fell asleep while she was reading.

When the subject in the main clause and the subordinate clause is the same, you can reduce the subordinating clause. The sentence stated above can be rephrased as follows:

She fell asleep while reading.

However, in case of the sentence presented by the OP, it's not correct grammatically to reduce the subordinating clause introduced by the conjunction 'while'. If we do so, the subject of the main clause (my eyes) will be regarded as the subject of the subordinating clause.

So it's 'b' that's correct grammatically, as pointed out by AlanCarmark in his answer.

  • ALan, so according to you
    – lalynacar.
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 18:13
  • Alan, after all, who was peeling onions? "I" or "my mom"? If it were "I", both a) and b) would be correct. If it were "my mom" b) would be correct if it said "she" instead of "I"
    – lalynacar.
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 19:02
  • @lalynacar I wrote an answer why (a) is best avoided. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 20:41
  • 1
    @AlanCarmack, thanks for correcting me. I have edited my answer accordingly.
    – Khan
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 1:36
  • Now I think my error was to consider "I do not want to help my mom in the kitchen anymore" as the main clause and, "this morning, while..........as the corresponding subordinating adverb clause, without taking into account the clause starting with "my eyes... as the main clause.
    – lalynacar.
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 3:37

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