1

Are these correct sentences? If they are correct, can you explain to me how many verbs are in each sentence and the tenses that are used to help me understand the full meaning?

  1. Rina who is wearing a hairband was sitting under the tree and reading a book.
  2. I saw a small boy accompanying his mother while holding a few balloons.
2

Sentence 1

Rina who is wearing a hairband was sitting under the tree and reading a book.

First, lets mark up all the verbs:

Rina, who is wearing a hairband, was sitting under the tree and reading a book.

(Be sure to add in those commas since "who is wearing a hairband" can be taken out without making the sentence incomplete. 'Extra' material like this is called an appositive phrase.)

Notice that "was" applies to both sitting under the tree and to reading the book. We also have "is," which applies to wearing a hairband. Both of these verbs are conjugations of to be and precede a present participle (an -ing word used as an action). That makes this tense the present progressive with Rina as the subject. Both "was" and "is" are conjugated in singular third-person, so that much is correct.

However, there is a bit of ambiguity, the elimination of which requires some clarification. Say you're sitting beside a friend, and you tell him or her Sentence 1. If Rina is wearing a hairband while you say the sentence, then using "is" rather than the past preterite was is okay. On the other hand, if Rina was wearing a hairband while she was reading, then "is" would need to be in the past tense, just like the "was" that refers to sitting under the tree and reading.

Sentence 2

I saw a small boy accompanying his mother while holding a few balloons.

This sentence is good to go! Here are the verbs:

I saw a small boy accompanying his mother while holding a few balloons.

This could easily trip anyone up, so look closely: "saw" (which is in the past preterite) is the only verb; "accompanying" and "holding" are both present participles (-ing words), but they're not paired with a conjugation of to be! That means that they are not actions (i.e., verbs) but rather characteristics (i.e., adjectives)!

Think of it like this (for this, I will leave objects italicized and adjectives bolded):

boy

small boy

which then becomes the object for a new adjective:

small boy accompanying his mother

which then becomes the object for yet another new adjective:

small boy accompanying his mother while holding a few balloons


Conclusion

The lesson here is that present participles can be used in the form

[conjugation of to be] + [-ing word]

to create the present progressive tense and show that an action occurs for longer than a set point in time, but they can also be used in the form

[noun] + [-ing word/phrase]

to create longer descriptions that work like adjectives.

  • 1
    Excellent, thorough answer! Welcome to ELL. – Ben Kovitz Jul 1 '16 at 2:33
  • user56478 is that necessary I have to put was after who or simply can write Rina, who wearing? If that is the case means, the word wearing is a adjective right? 2. Then, how about the phrases like Amith, who involved, The dog, which involves.. are they used same way like who is wearing or have other functions.. Can I use diffrent tenses after wh-questions? – Parthiban Muthiah Jul 1 '16 at 14:05
  • If you used "wearing" like an adjective, you would not use "who": Rina, wearing a hairband, … – gen-z ready to perish Jul 1 '16 at 15:03
  • As for the dog-Amith question, I don't follow you @ParthibanMuthiah – gen-z ready to perish Jul 1 '16 at 15:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.