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Hello.
I'm studying this construction on + ing form, with the meaning of when, so I made up these sentences and I'd like to know if they sound good:

Many people on leaving their native country forget their roots.
On answering the phone she said: Hello, how are you?
On crossing the street he saw the accident.
A discussion took place on starting the meeting.
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Comments  
Only the last one (A discussion ...) seems strange.
Maybe it's because of the inanimate subject; a discussion couldn't start a meeting.
The others seem fine to me!

CJ
CJ, is there a way of rephrasing the last one, keeping the on+ing form?
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You could have a discussion on starting the meeting if you were waiting for people to arrive, and those already present discussed whether or not to begin the official meeting without them.
I think you can rephrase it in passive form.

A discussion took place on starting the meeting =>
A discussion was taken place on starting the meeting
I'm afraid your second sentence is not correct English. Perhaps you mean 'was taking place', but this still would not make sense with 'on starting the meeting'.

You could say "a discussion took place on starting the meeting", which, depending upon the context would either mean that the meeting started, and immediately a discussion took place.

Or, it could mean that there was a discussion about whether or not to start the meeting
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Maybe it's because of the inanimate subject; a discussion couldn't start a meeting.

Just to bring out the implications of CJ's post: when you use 'on ING', or 'when ING', it's best to make sure that the subject of the ING verb is the same as the subject of the main verb, as the listener will usually interpret the sentence on that basis — e.g.

1. On leaving the meeting, he was chased by photographers.

— 'he' is leaving the meeting; 'he' is chased. Fine.

2. A large Mercedes ran him down, on leaving the meeting.

– the Mercedes ran him down, but wasn't 'leaving the meeting'. Dodgy.

3. On leaving the meeting, the photographers chased him down the street.

— the photographers 'chased'; but who was leaving the meeting? Ambiguous.

Where there is no explicit subject in the ING clause, as in #2, the ING clause is known as a 'dangling modifier'. Danglers often have unintentionally comic effects, so it's best to avoid them.

MrP
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Dear MrP.:I have found your post very helpful and not prescriptivistic at all. Thank you.
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Thank you, Latin!

Have a good weekend,
MrP
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