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hi guys

i have questions that i really want to know.

it's about participle clauses.

whenever i read these sentences below, these are very confusing.

1.The owner came to the door of an office, wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.

' --- ,wiping his hands on a dirty cloth' means -' and he wiped his hands on a dirty cloth'

or -' and he was wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.' ?

2. ------- office,wiping - office wiping(without ' , ') what's the difference?

3 my wife had a talk with Sally, explaining the problem.

' --- ,explaining the problem' - what does this mean?

'- and my wife explained the problem or and my wife was explaining the problem'

please please, give me your answers.
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Anonymoushi guys

i have questions that i really want to know.

it's about participle clauses.

whenever i read these sentences below, these are very confusing.

1.The owner came to the door of an office, wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.

' --- ,wiping his hands on a dirty cloth' means -' and he wiped his hands on a dirty cloth'

or -' and he was wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.' ?

2. ------- office,wiping - office wiping(without ' , ') what's the difference?

3 my wife had a talk with Sally, explaining the problem.

' --- ,explaining the problem' - what does this mean?

'- and my wife explained the problem or and my wife was explaining the problem'

please please, give me your answers.

Anon,

All sentences start with a capital letter, and "I" is always capitalized.

# 2 makes no sense to me.

#1 The owner came to the door of an office, wiping his hands on a dirty cloth. The function of a particple phrase is adverbial. It modifies (or adds additional information) the main clause.

You can think of it this way: The owner came to the door of an office and he wiped his hands on his shirt. Instead of using two sentences to describe the same thing, a participle phrase such as "wiping his hands" can be used to make it sound more fluid.

# 3 is the same reason.

I must disagree with the suggestion that "and he wiped" is the same as the use of "wiping."

As he was wiping his hands, he came to the door. The action of wiping his hands was going on as he came to the door -- they were not sequential actions.

If you omit the comma, the sentence is not grammatical. The "wiping his hands..." describes him.

In the process of talking with Sally, your wife explained the problem.
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AnonymousThe owner came to the door of an office, wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.
The owner came to the door of an office while (at the same time) (he was) wiping his hands on a dirty cloth.
Anonymousoffice,wiping - office wiping(without ' , ')
I'm completely indifferent to the use of the comma. I get the same meaning from the sentence with or without the comma. Maybe there's a punctuation rule about this, but I can't quote it. Sorry.
Anonymousmy My wife had a talk with Sally, explaining the problem.Participial phrases often have a very vague relationship with the main clause. They can sometimes have a temporal relationship (e.g., while), and they can sometimes have a relationship involving cause and/or effect and/or a result and/or a purpose (e.g., thereby). This particular sentence is a good example. I find it to be a sort of vague combination of the following paraphrases.

My wife had a talk with Sally during which she explained the problem.
My wife had a talk with Sally for the purpose of explaining the problem.
My wife had a talk with Sally which explained the problem.
My wife had a talk with Sally, and by doing so, she explained the problem.

CJ
Hi GG,
Grammar GeekI must disagree with the suggestion that "and he wiped" is the same as the use of "wiping."

I can appreciate why you made this statement. I must agree with you that "wiping" and "he wiped" are not the same, Having established that, I am not validating or advocating this usage. But at the time, I was inspired by this thought in the back of my mind that perhaps it can help to explain the particple phrases by making this contrast.

"

Grammar Geek
As he was wiping his hands, he came to the door. The action of wiping his hands was going on as he came to the door -- they were not sequential actions.

Your argument had the partciple phrase inverted and added a preposition "as" in front of it which clearly describe the wiping took place before he started walking toward the door.

But the sentence was:

"The owner came to the door of the office, wiping his hand on a dirth cloth".

Taking this sentence as written, I saw is no clear description when the "wiping" took place. He could well be wiping his hands as he approached the door. Or the "wiping" took place at the same time as he walk toward the door, and it could even be after he reached the door. What I tried to say, for the lack of better explanation was, there were two actions described: [He came to the door] and [he wiped his hands], and "wiping his hands" can essentially reduce the two sentences into one by converting the sencond one into a particple phrase. Does this redeem "my mental error"; if there was one Emotion: smile?
You disagree with CJ as well?
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No, of course not! I consider CJ my online mentor, Seriously! Having said that, CJ also pointed out the timing of "wiping". I already admitted "wiping" and "he wiped" are not the same. By your revision adding "as" to the inversion, it changed the context by a large degree. It's not the same argument in my opinion. Appreciate your reply.
dimsumexpressThe function of a particple phrase is adverbial. It modifies (or adds additional information) the main clause.

I know we've had a discussion about this before, but ever since I've been checking all my grammar sources, and each and every one of them states the same: participial phrases function as adjectives. In this case the "wiping" participial phrase modifies 'owner' as an adjective.They indicate the state that the subject is in during the sentence; they do not indicate how the subject does something (the verbal). (see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/2 / ).

The comma is technically required to prevent the participle from modifying the noun 'office', even tough misreading is almost impossible here. As for a "rule", you could fall back on the rule that elements that are not in their normal order should receive proper punctuation.
Yes, most sites state they function as adjectives, but this is not to say it is entirely correct. Sites simplify, to appeal to the masses and non-natives trying to learn the language. The basic use of a participle is that of an adjective modifying the following noun, so that is why they state that participle clauses function in the same way.

More comprehensive discussions on the matter differentiate between the various participle clauses, naming some as sentence modifiers, some as adverbials, and some as adjectives. Alas, the site I was going to provide is no longer active. Below is another--not quite as good or credible, but sufficient:

http://www2.gsu.edu/~eslhpb/grammar/lecture_10/complex.html
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