1

I read this sentence in a book:

Being jealous, Mona would not let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

I've seen similiar sentences starting with "being" but I don't know why an english person should start a sentence like that! If I was going to say the same things, maybe i would say this one:

Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders because she was jealous.

Now these are my questions:

  1. When do English people start a sentence with "being"?
  2. What's the difference between my sentence and the first sentence?
  3. Is my sentence right at all?
  • There are two states, "she was jealous" and "Mona would not let her boyfriend dance". The order only depends on emphasis or what you want to bring up first (in context). For example, if you want to emphasize the jealousy, you can't just write "jealous" at the beginning of the sentence. – user3169 Jul 12 '16 at 16:46
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Being jealous is what's called a free adjunct. It would be very difficult to explain exactly what linguists understand about it to you, since it requires a lot of technical knowledge.

The best way to explain it is this. Let's start with the sentence:

Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

At this point, the listeners doesn't know why Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders. However, the speaker wants to let the listener know why Mona didn't let him, so they want to add that Mona was jealous.

The most straight-forward solution would be your sentence,

Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders because she was jealous.

The reverse also works (Because...Mona...). But they require two clauses inside the main sentence.

[[Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders] [because she was jealous.]]

Instead of having to put two clauses inside the main sentence, why not just have one with some extra information tacked on?

[Being jealous,] [[Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.]]

This is analogous to:

Jealously, Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

The difference is that with jealously, it moved from the main clause to outside it. In other words, the original sentence was:

Mona jealously didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

And then the jealously moved in a process we call topicalization. Topicalization in English moves parts of the sentence to the front so they're more prominent.

↓----------¬
  Mona jealously didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

With being jealous, however, it didn't move from anywhere. The speaker just thought of it and attached it to a point where it's allowed, which includes the front of the sentence.

Being jealous
     ↓
       Mona didn't let her boyfriend dance with any of the cheerleaders.

In conclusion, being jealous is basically a quick way of saying "Mona was jealous, therefore...." with fewer words.

  • I thought, being jealous is a participle phrase acting as an adverb or simply an adverbial participle. I think I should read about adjuncts – Cardinal Jul 12 '16 at 20:19
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    According to Fonteyn and Cuyckens, free adjuncts "typically express adverbial meanings...or adverbial-like meanings" and Izvorski says free adjuncts "are sentence-level adverbials which do not have an overt logical connective linking them to the main clause". So, you have the right idea. An adjunct basically means "take this away from the sentence and it'll mean something different, but still make sense", so adverbs and adjectives are typically adjuncts in syntax. – eijen Jul 12 '16 at 20:44
  • Thank you, especially for those PDF files, I will read them although they look too far beyond me. Those seem to be for linguistics and experts; It is the first impression after skimming those. – Cardinal Jul 12 '16 at 20:55
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    Yes, they are rather difficult since they're for trained linguists, but I felt it important that I source my quotes. I suggest you look at resources about syntax more geared towards English language learners, if at all possible. – eijen Jul 12 '16 at 21:49
1

"Being" in this sentence is a present participle, which is the verb form created with the base of the verb plus ing. It's a verb form used a little like an adjective: Mary was talking; Dylan was running; I saw Courtney laughing.

We use it at the beginning of a sentence to indicate that two things took place at the same time, or that one was the reason for the other. For example,

Whistling, Marley cleaned the house (that is, Marley cleaned the house while whistling)

Biting into the steak, Philomena lost a tooth (that is, as Philomena bit into the steak, she lost a tooth - but you could also think of it as being that she lost a tooth because she bit into the steak)

Feeling bored, I decided to go for a walk (that is, I decided to go for a walk because I was bored)

To address your questions specifically: yes, your sentence is correct too, and means pretty much the same thing. The logical conclusion we would make from the original sentence is that Mona did not let her boyfriend dance with the cheerleaders because she was jealous.

  • I think being +[bla bla] is a participle phrase acting as an adverb. we can use it at the beginning or at the end of a sentence. compare: "Being a nurse, she knew what to do when two cars crashed on the street in the front of her eyes". or "He fixed the computer, being an engineer". – Cardinal Jul 12 '16 at 20:26
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I can see your point: your rewrite seems more direct and is probably the more common way to express it.

That said, there are several reasons an author might want to stray from that "standard" approach, such tone, nuance, rhythm, and emphasis.

Being the flexible language that it is, English doesn't require a subject-verb-object construct for every sentence. This probably makes it hard for the learner, but, for the rest of us, it's refreshing to see some variation every once in a while, be it in journalism or literature.

0

Your sentence is correct.

When do English people start a sentence with "being"?

What's the difference between my sentence and the first sentence?

Here's some possible reasons:

  • Sometimes if something is important, it's better to put it in the beginning of the sentence - it will make specific things stick in the reader/listener's mind a bit better.

  • "[Z] Being X, Y" is more compact and less wordy than "X because Z is Y."

    • If the reader/listener has already previously said that Z is X, but wants to mention it again as a "reminder", this compact form is preferred.
    • If the reader/listener already knows who Z is, the reader/listener may find it overly repetitive to hear Z again.
  • "X because Z is Y" usually expresses a strict cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y. However, the author/speaker may want to "soften" that a bit - maybe Z had some tendencies toward Y previously, but only now is fully manifesting Y. "[Z] Being X, Y" blurs these harsh lines somewhat which may be better for expressing emotions and tendencies.

  • Np, but IMHO you should wait a while before accepting any answer. Others more knowledgeable than me may comment, prove me wrong, vote me down, or post a better answer. – LawrenceC Jul 12 '16 at 17:12

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