3

I wrote a sentence that was considered awkward by fellow translators, on a couple of counts. I'm singling out one particular word they found awkward:

During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city, learning about its establishment and history.

Does this "learning" look awkward here?

Would a native speaker use the finite-form "learn" instead? I understand that that would involve adding "and", I just wonder whether the -ing form or the finite form is more felicitous here.


(Another question concerning the same sentence)

5
  • I remembered something.If you mean learnig to refer to stories, then there is a dangling structure. The subject of your second clause is not the same as the subject of the previous clause.
    – user33000
    May 21, 2016 at 8:41
  • A suggestion, change your advervbial to a relative clause. "During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city, which help you learn about its establishment and history."
    – user33000
    May 21, 2016 at 8:59
  • Pardon me.I forgot in a nondefining relative clause we cannot drop relative pronoun so l changed my previous clause.
    – user33000
    May 21, 2016 at 9:00
  • 1
    Your question reads more like a request for proof-reading and you know it is off-topic here. I will not use the verb to "learn" unless they (tourists) came to study its history. Choice of the verb is making the sentence sound awkward.
    – user24743
    May 21, 2016 at 9:13
  • 1
    @Rathony - proofreading is "tell me if something is wrong with the sentence". A ELL question is "tell me if this construction is used wrongly here or leaves an impression of being awkward" May 21, 2016 at 9:55

2 Answers 2

4

We can use the participle clause as you do there to express an incidental or tangential fact.

We will visit the ruins on our tour, fording the stream to reach the dig site.

The problem with your sentence is not grammatical, but semantic, since learning is not an incidental but a direct outcome of hearing stories.

P.S. The participle smooths a somewhat jarring non-sequitur by marking the added fact as tangential/incidental to the finite clause. Consider the statement with a second (non-sequitur) finite clause:

We will visit the ruins on our tour and ford the stream to reach the dig site.

In the OP, a second finite clause would have been better than the participle learning:

During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city and learn about its establishment and history.

because the second finite clause follows directly from the first; it is not tangential to it.

7
  • Hmmm. How about "He punched him in the face, breaking two of his teeth in the process". Sorry for the violent example, but my point was that the punching directly causes the tooth loss here. They don't seem to be incidental, to me. May 21, 2016 at 12:25
  • @Araucaria: The non-finite marks the phrase as incidental. The broken teeth are indeed incidental to the punch. He punched him in the face and kicked him in the groin. The kick is not incidental to the punch; we would not say "He punched him in the face, kicking him in the groin." The bull ran through the china shop, breaking dishes.
    – TimR
    May 21, 2016 at 12:49
  • Incidental in the sense "collaterally related to or arising from a principle action"
    – TimR
    May 21, 2016 at 12:56
  • In the OP, I would consider "hear stories" and "learn" to be synonyms rather than principle action and its collateral consequence, though at this level of abstraction it is possible to split hairs; we could consider audition as logically and temporally prior to learning. It just depends on how we define "learn". How did you learn that the deceased was your cousin? --He told me before he left on that fateful trip to the Amazon.
    – TimR
    May 21, 2016 at 13:11
  • What is your opinion on "During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city and they will help you understand its establishment and history." or "During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city (,) which will help you understand its establishment and history." I think it all depends on what you want to emphasize in the sentence.
    – user24743
    May 21, 2016 at 17:16
2

To use learn, it would need to be:

During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city and learn about its establishment and history.

The verb forms of "hear" and "learn" are the same here, but a conjunction has to be added.

As for the original:

During the tour, you will hear interesting stories about the city, learning about its establishment and history.

"learning" refers to the "interesting stories". You would be learning from the interesting stories.

7
  • I wondered whether "learning" is okay stylistically there or it were better to use "learn". May 21, 2016 at 6:46
  • @sina - it was not meant to be a parallel structure in my sentence. I used it as an adverbial. May 21, 2016 at 7:31
  • @CowperKettle what kind of adverbial you ment to use?
    – user33000
    May 21, 2016 at 8:16
  • @sina - manner, probably. "You will hear them in a way that will make you learn some facts". I'm not sure. May 21, 2016 at 8:22
  • @CowperKettle So it would mean this: the stories would be in a way that help you learn about the city. If it is correct, I got it:-) Thank you.
    – user33000
    May 21, 2016 at 8:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .