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‎Mark stood next to Tracy, feeling helplessly nervous.

I have a question about this sentence.

If context is added, according to context, can the sentence mean either 1 or 2 below?

1. Mark stood next to Tracy, and Tracy felt helplessly nervous.

2. Mark stood next to Tracy, and Mark felt helplessly nervous.

I mean without context, the sentence can mean both 1 and 2?

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By default we take the subject of the main clause to be the implicit subject of the participle clause, so the default is

Mark stood next to Tracy, (Mark) feeling helplessly nervous.

The intuitive feeling of native speakers about this is so strong that it is difficult to change it so that some other component of the main clause is felt to be the subject of the participle clause.

CJ

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CalifJim

By default we take the subject of the main clause to be the implicit subject of the participle clause, so the default is

Mark stood next to Tracy, (Mark) feeling helplessly nervous.

The intuitive feeling of native speakers about this is so strong that it is difficult to change it so that some other component of the main clause is felt to be the subject of the participle clause.

CJ

Then, unlike the sentence in the original post, if context is clear as in this sentence "Erika rides the bus, billowing black exhaust into the air", is it correct to see "billowing black..the air" as non-restrictively modifying "The bus" because it doesn't make much sense if it's modifying Erika?


And is there a difference in meaning between A and B below?

A. Two men were standing there with a bulldog, barking at people.

B. Two men were standing there with a bulldog barking at people.

I would like to know whether it's grammatically correct or possible to set off a participle phrase to use it non-restrictively to modify its preceding noun like "A bulldog".

fire1Then, unlike the sentence in the original post, if context is clear as in this sentence "Erika rides the bus, billowing black exhaust into the air", is it correct to see "billowing black..the air" as non-restrictively modifying "The bus" because it doesn't make much sense if it's modifying Erika?

While it's true that only the bus, and not Erika, can billow black smoke, it still sounds to me like Erika is billowing the smoke. The final result is that the sentence is comical.

fire1

And is there a difference in meaning between A and B below?

A. Two men were standing there with a bulldog, barking at people.

B. Two men were standing there with a bulldog barking at people.

B is less humorous than A. You can almost get away with B, but don't take a chance. Write "a bulldog that was barking at people". Or, non-restrictive, "a bulldog, which was barking at people".

fire1I would like to know whether it's grammatically correct or possible to set off a participle phrase to use it non-restrictively to modify its preceding noun like "A bulldog".

You may be able to find a case once in a while where you can do that without ruining the sentence, but not in the general case. In my opinion it is almost always impossible.

CJ

CalifJim

You may be able to find a case once in a while where you can do that without ruining the sentence, but not in the general case. In my opinion it is almost always impossible.

CJ


However, I have learnt that past participle phrase can be used non-restrictively, set off by commas, as in 3 and 4, but why cannot only present participle phrase be used non-restrictively? If context is clear as in 5, isn't it a sure thing that "threatening people on the streets" modifies "the criminals"?


3. I will go through the tunnel, located across the street.

4. Pharmacists utilize a sophisticated computer system, designed to create more streamed lined workflow.

5. The cctv captured the criminals, threatening people on the street.

6. The cctv captured the criminals threatening people on the street.

So my questions are

Q1) Like in 3 and 4, can past participle phrase be used non-restrictively? As far as I know, past participle phrase at least can.

Q2) Like in 5, if context is clear enough for people to see "threatening people on the streets" as modifying the criminals, is it grammatically possible to use present participle phrase non-restrictively with commas in order to express all the criminals captured on the cctv threatened people on the street? If not, could you give any reason why?

Q3) Is there a difference in meaning between 5 and 6? I think there is, To me, 6 sounds like not all of the criminals, but some of them threatened people on the street, and 5 sounds like all the criminals threatened people because of the comma. This is the main reason why I think of this question as important and am asking on and on.

Q4) Haven't you ever seen any sentences where present participle phrase is used non-restrictively as in 5?

Q5) When is it possible to use present participle phrase non-restrictively? Is it possible only in this case when the phrase can be seen only modifying the subject as in "Students, planning to study nursing, must first meet with the dean" ?

(I'm asking about present participle phrase that is set off by commas and is modifying not the subject, but the its preceding noun, as in example 5)

The point is that I want to know whether it's impossible to use non-restrictively present participle phrase to modify its preceding noun, not the subject in a sentence and if possible, when it's possible or not.

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fire1The point is that I want to know whether it's impossible to use non-restrictively present participle phrase to modify its preceding noun, not the subject in a sentence and if possible, when it's possible or not.

Nothing is impossible, but I've never seen a participle clause (present or past) convincingly used that way.

Non-restrictive implies parenthetical. Not even the participle clauses in 3 and 4 sound parenthetical to me. To me, it's "the tunnel located across the street" and no other tunnel. To me, it's "a sophisticated computer system designed to create more streamlined workflow" and no other kind of computer system. To me, it's "the criminals threatening people on the street" and no other criminals. In each case the participle clause modifies the preceding noun, i.e., specifies more thoroughly the meaning of that noun. It doesn't just say "and by the way" and add extra somewhat unrelated information about the tunnel, the computer system, or the criminals.

I found this online: Mr. Davis, wearing a white jacket, is our coach. It's a rather lame example of a non-restrictive participle clause associated with a sentence subject. Here's another I found, and it's equally weak: Jonathan, smoking his cigarette, kicked Enrique. Nobody talks or writes like this. These are artificially constructed examples that are used only to prove that such constructions are possible. They may be possible, but they're not useful.

I was unable to find an example where the non-restrictive participle clause was associated with any other component of a sentence, e.g., an object at the end of a sentence.


Take a look at the link below, especially the part headed "Punctuate a Participle Phrase Correctly". You will see that if you follow those rules, you can't have a non-restrictive participle clause at the end of a sentence when it applies to the noun that immediately precedes it. (By the way, I don't think it's always necessary to follow those punctuation rules exactly, but those are a good start.)

https://www.chompchomp.com/terms/participlephrase.htm

fire1I have learnt that past participle phrase can be used non-restrictively, set off by commas, as in 3 and 4

I'm curious to know where you learned this. Can you provide a link?

CJ

CalifJim
fire1I have learnt that past participle phrase can be used non-restrictively, set off by commas, as in 3 and 4

I'm curious to know where you learned this. Can you provide a link?

CJ

I came across 3 and 4 at this link :https://www.reddit.com/r/grammar/comments/535fgm/use_of_a_comma_before_past_participles/

Although there are no words that 3 and 4 are grammatical, since they talk as if they're all grammatical, I believed that past participle phrase can be used non-restrictively.

So to sum up,

1. As in 3,4,5 It's really impossible to use participle phrase to non-restrictively modify its preceding noun, except the subject in a sentence?

2. To make 3,4,5 grammatical, must relative pronouns be added ?as in

-3'. I will go through the tunnel, which is located across the street.

-4'. Pharmacists utilize a sophisticated computer system, which is designed to create more streamed lined workflow.

-5'. The cctv captured the criminals, who were threatening people on the street.

3. However, though I don't know whether I was mistaken or not, in colloquial speech or in informal writings that do not require strict grammar rules, I seem to have often seen relative pronouns that should be added in formal writings seem to be purposely omitted. (I guess this would be just not to make sentences sound too formal and but to make them sound casual) So I'm asking whether native English speakers, although not often, tend to drop "relative pronouns" in such cases as in 3, 4, 5 in informal writings or colloquial speech. Haven't you really seen such sentences where participle phrase is non-restrictively used to modify its preceding noun, not the subject? or heard such sentences said by native speakers in casual speech?

I'm not asking about this case : Mr. Davis, wearing a white jacket, is our coach. Here, participle phrase is modifying non-restrictively the subject. I'm talking about the case that it's modifying non-restrictively its preceding noun, except the subject, ESPECTIALLY WHEN ITS PRECEDING NOUN AND THE SUBJECT ARE NOT THE SAME.

Thank you very much for your contribution to my questions!

fire1

I came across 3 and 4 at this link ...

Although there are no words that 3 and 4 are grammatical, since they talk as if they're all grammatical, I believed that past participle phrase can be used non-restrictively.

Being grammatical is not the problem. There are thousands of sentences which are grammatical but make no sense.

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously is perfectly grammatical, but it makes no sense.

In a previous post I have already said that sentences 3, 4, and 5 make no sense with a comma. That is, there is no situation in which those sentences would be usable. There is no reason to think that those final participle clauses could be non-restrictive. They are not parenthetical in nature.

I'm not saying you can't have that kind of clause at all, but I'm saying it would be pretty hard to invent one that was convincing. I can't think of any.

If you remove the commas in 3, 4, and 5, you have sentences that make sense.


Regarding your idea of changing the participle clause to a full non-restrictive relative clause with "which is" or "who is", no, that doesn't help. It's the idea that is restrictive, and the idea is the same whether it is expressed in one way or another.

1) He waved to the girl who was standing on the corner.
2) He waved to the girl standing on the corner.

1) and 2) express the same idea, but in different ways. The girl is specified as the one standing on the corner. That's a restrictive idea. It tells the reader which girl the writer is talking about.

You can't change the idea by adding a comma and saying you've waved your magic wand and made the idea non-restrictive. The problem with the discussion on the link you provided is that some of the participants there think you can do this kind of magic. (Maybe you can in very rare cases, but not generally for all sentences.)

fire1I seem to have often seen relative pronouns that should be added in formal writings seem to be purposely omitted.

It's not that they should be added. You can say or write these however you want that makes sense, as I illustrated in 1) and 2) above.

fire1Haven't you really seen such sentences where participle phrase is non-restrictively used to modify its preceding noun, not the subject?

I don't think I have seen sentences like that. No. If I have, it must have been a rare thing, and I certainly can't remember what sentences they were. I don't even know how you would find sentences like that.

fire1I'm not asking about this case : Mr. Davis, wearing a white jacket, is our coach. Here, participle phrase is modifying non-restrictively the subject.

Yes, I know. You've been very clear about that for some time now.

CJ

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