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Hi

I think I have pretty good ideas about different types of phrases and clauses. There are three sets of questions here, and hopefully someone can enlighten me and point me to the right direction.

Set #1 - Which one is(are) the correct or best answer? This type of sentence seems to involve expressing a future event or action that depends on another future event or action happening before or after it. What is this type of problem and confusion called?

1) Please send me an email after you ship out the package.

2) Please send me an email after shipping out the package.

3) Please send me an email after you have shipped out the package.

4) Please send me an email after the package has been shipped.

Set #2 - Which one is(are) the correct or best answer?

1) Every box must be inspected before it gets on the container.

2) Every box must be inspected before getting on the container.

3) You must inspect every box before it gets on the container.

4) You must inspect every box before getting on the container.

Comments  
Greetings, O confused one, and welcome to English Forums. We'd like to have you try to answer your set questions first, based on your understanding, and then we'll check what you've done.
O.K Let me try.

For set number 1, I think the answer number one is correct. Answer number tow is also right but not as formal as answer number 1. I'm not sure about answer number three and four, but I would say they are not correct. It seems to me that this type of quation has something to do with future imcomplete, but, then again, I am not sure about it.

For set number two, I think that answer number 1-3 are correct. While number 4 is also correct but the meaning is different from the rest.

For set number three, again, I think they are both correct. Answer number one is more formal and specific than answer number two. However, most people seem to opt for the style of number two -- using prepositional phrase as adverb to set up the background information instead of using a dependent clause.

Are prepositional phrases working as adverb and adverbial dependent clauses interchangeable ? If not, what are the rules?
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Good. Now, my opinions--

set 1-- I would call them all perfectly fine, although some writers would prefer #1 and #3 because it is clear who does the shipping. I have no name for this type of problem unless we compare it to set 2, which exhibits dangling participial modification:

set 2-- As you surmise, #1 and #3 are correct, as it is clear that a human (or a facsimile of one) is doing the inspecting, and it is the box that is getting in (not on) the container. #2 and #4 make it grammatically unclear as to who is inspecting and who is getting into the container: dangling modification (unattached participles).

set 3-- Both fine to me. The nonfinite clause as you suggest is a bit more elegant-- nothing particularly specific about it that I can see. I cannot think of any problem with using a nonfinite clause as an adverbial instead of the finite clause, but then I haven't seen all the cases. The rule is to be careful that the referrent to which the participle is attached is clear.
Thank you Forum Guru! Here is what I think about the answers:

Set 1: If I move the phrase "after shipping out the package" to the front of the sentence number two, it would then take care of the problem of dangling modifier. Am I right? As to sentence number three, I know it sounds right, but why we use the present perfect in the dependent clause?

Set 2: I made a mistake here. I meant to say that the sentence number two is more formal and specific than sentence number one. But still, here is my question: In a complex sentence, are prepositional phrases working as adverb and adverbial dependent clauses interchangeable? If not, what are the rules.

Thank you.
Set 1: I don't think that fronting the clause solves any problem; but I also think the problem is slight, if it exists at all. The question of what is the subject of shipping is clear enough-- it is the same as the subject of send, i.e. implied you.

The present perfect can be used here in #3 to indicate that the email notification is expected soon after the package is shipped. There is no difference is meaning from #1. It is just a preoccupation in the mind of the speaker.

Set2: I presume that you mean Set 3. I don't see much difference, but according to some source (whom I have misplaced), #1 is the more formal, i.e. more elegant, because it is more efficient with expressions.

As I said, I would presume without seeing all the cases that they are interchangeable; the rule is that the participle must not dangle, however.
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Thank you.