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He jumped off the terrace saying he had hated life all along, and death was all he wished for.

Is the above sentence grammatically correct? And, does it mean "he jumped off the terrace while (at the time of jumping) saying all those things", or "he said those things prior to his jumping"?

  • I wrote it. I've started taking an interest on participles, and how they work. @Rathony – lekon chekon Jun 3 '16 at 10:36
  • I'm a pedant, and what i feel more important than getting myself across is getting myself across right. @Rathony – lekon chekon Jun 3 '16 at 10:37
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He jumped off the terrace saying he had hated life all along, and death was all he wished for.

The sentence is grammatically correct.

And, does it mean "he jumped off the terrace while (at the time of jumping) saying all those things", or "he said those things prior to his jumping"?

It could mean either of those things. I think Tᴚoɯɐuo has it right when saying (in a comment):

The timeframe does not have to be "very quick"; it merely has to be perceived by the speaker as being one and the same frame, semantically.

However, your sentence is ambiguous: it is unclear whether he said that death was all he wished for, or whether you (the narrator) are commenting that death was all he wished for.

If you remove the comma, it will make it clear that he said that death was all he wished for.

He jumped off the terrace saying he had hated life all along and death was all he wished for.

If you want crystal clarity, you can add two "that"s, and you can can then keep the comma if you want to:

He jumped off the terrace saying that he had hated life all along, and that death was all he wished for.

On the other hand, if you don't want to imply that he said the last bit, the best way would be to use a separate sentence:

He jumped off the terrace saying he had hated life all along. Death was all he wished for.

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He jumped off the terrace saying he had hated life all along, and death was all he wished for.

The sentence is grammatically accurate. The use of participle implies that the two actions mentioned that is "jumping off the terrace" and "saying all those things" happened in a very quick timeframe.

It doesn't have to literally mean that he first initiated the jump and then started saying the words, but that he was saying those words and as he was finishing the words, he jumped off the terrace.

  • Are participles use to describe simultaneous events? – lekon chekon Jun 3 '16 at 10:40
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    The timeframe does not have to be "very quick"; it merely has to be perceived by the speaker as being one and the same frame, semantically. The mayor signed several wage-freeze laws during his four-year term of office, arguing that civil salaries were rising faster than the rate-of-inflation. Thus, in the mind of the person describing the leap from the terrace, the "leap" included the moments of decision beforehand, and was not confined to that zero-moment of equipoise when the leaper is neither rising nor falling. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 3 '16 at 12:59

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