Could you please explain to me if the second she in this sentence sounds natural or redundant and the reason behind your answer:

  • She gets a sparkle in her eyes when she looks at you.
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    It is completely right. A clause needs a subject. She is the subject of both clauses. – MorganFR Aug 5 '16 at 11:41
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    It could also say when looking at you. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 5 '16 at 12:53
  • It could also say When she looks at you, she gets a sparkle in her eyes. or similar to what TRomano said, When looking at you, she gets a sparkle in her eyes. – haykam Aug 5 '16 at 21:58
  • In general, please explain why you think your examples might be correct or incorrect, natural or unnatural, etc. :) – Em. Aug 5 '16 at 23:22

That is the correct way to express that sentence.

If you didn't include the second she, the verb in your when clause would not have a subject. If it was omitted, it would be understood but it would be incorrect.

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    By understood but it would be incorrect, what you mean is would be understood by Anglophones as a reliable indicator of "non-native speaker". I think it's not a mistake that native speakers would ever make (so it would stick out quite markedly). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 5 '16 at 15:46
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    @FumbleFingers: By "understood" I mean that any fluent speaker will be able to discern the meaning. I would agree that it isn't a mistake likely to be made by a native speaker, and it would most likely indicate that the person who said it is not a native speaker. – LMS Aug 5 '16 at 15:53
  • Well, I'd think any halfway advanced learner would be able to discern the meaning too (perhaps the OP himself might even find the incorrect version easier, because that's how his own language works). But the thing is there are lots of "errors" made by native speakers even when they know perfectly well they're incorrect. Perhaps ...and infallibly recognized as such or something like that at the end of your text? (These comments are "ephemera" that may get deleted, but I'd say the point is worth making more permanently). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 5 '16 at 16:07
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    @FumbleFingers: A learner probably would understand, but the typical benchmark is a native (or fluent) speaker. My opinion is that by saying something is incorrect, it is implicitly said that it should not be used. If something is incorrect but used by native/fluent speakers, that should be explicitly said – not the other way around. – LMS Aug 5 '16 at 16:33

In a when clause, a finite verb—one which is inflected for tense, person and number—requires an explicit subject, so the second she is necessary.

It is only if you use a non-finite verb (in this case an -ing form would be acceptable) that you may omit the subject; the subject is inferred to be the subject of the main clause to which the when clause is attached.

She gets a sparkle in her eyes when looking at you.

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    It may be worth pointing out that the "looking" form is not so intense in this context. – Andrew Morton Aug 5 '16 at 16:51
  • That's basically the same, but there is a slight difference. "When she looks at you" can be read to mean at the moment that the looking begins, whereas "when looking at you" implies that the effect lasts until she stops looking. So, to pick things apart, it would probably make more sense to say that "she has a sparkle in her eyes when looking at you". – DCShannon Aug 6 '16 at 0:41

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