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Arriving at the circus early, seats could be selected near the center ring.
Should I be using the comma? thank you
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Nothing wrong with the comma but you need a subject for the main clause.

eg. Arriving at the circus early, I could select a seat near the center ring. The whole phrase in front modifies the subject ' I '

For you sentence, it is ' seats ' arriving at the circus early Emotion: stick out tongue
I disagree whl626 - the second clause is passive, and it is part of the nature of passive to hide the subject or agent of the verb -

if something IS missing, perhaps it is a subordinating element, eg
by
or due to
in front of the first clause?
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No, WHL is correct.

I know it's pedantic, but I think a whole bunch of really pedantic questions must be being thrown up from somewhere as we're seeing a whole run of them. While this wouldn't present a problem for most English speakers, it does seem to present a problem for one or two textbooks. WHL's given the formal answer, and on that basis, I agree with him.

Rommie
I still dont see it!
It seems that you are both suggesting kind of "rules for the sake of it" grammar, so what is the rule?

In semantic terms there is no way that "seats" could be construed as the subject of arriving, which is what whl says!

are you suggesting that you cant use pasive forms in complex sentences?
Suzi, you are absolutely correct in that, in plain, common sense terms, there is no way that the seats could be arriving early.

Nonetheless, the formal rules dictate that that is exactly what the sentence says. And that's why it's wrong.

Like I said, it's ridiculously pedantic. It's not a problem that would ever occur in real life. It's a problem that could only ever occur in school textbooks and no-where else. It is, as you say, "rules for the sake of it". Utterly pointless. But for people here who want to pass exams and stuff, this is just what they'll need to know.

There does come a point when "rules for the sake of it" starts to look pathetic, I agree. But you can't argue with whomever marks your exam paper.

Rommie
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I understand that, Rommie, but in this case, I still dont see what the rule is!
Will an example help? Here's one:

If I say "I phoned Jane from Paris", the sentence could mean either:

1. There exists a person called Jane, who comes from Paris, and I phoned her.
2. There exists a person called Jane, and, whilst in Paris, I phoned her.

Now, in order to disambiguate, the formal rule is that the adverbial phrase ("from Paris") must be placed as closely as possible to the noun which it describes. If it doesn't, it's called a "dangling preposition" (because such adverbial phrases often start with a preposition) and is formally considered to be wrong. So - formally - only meaning 1 may be inferred. If I had intended meaning 2, I would have had to have said: "From Paris I phoned Jane", or something similar.

The problem is that textbooks take this to extremes. Sometimes they insist that adverbial phrases which describe nouns must always go next to the noun they describe, even if there could be no ambiguity at all in the mind of any reasonable person. Under this rule, a sentence like "I walked down the street with the dog" could be construed as an error, because it implies that you walked down something called "the street with the dog". A stuffy examiner might argue: "What street with the dog?".

It's pathetic, I know. Does that help?
Rommie
it helps up to a point - can you explain it with ref to the example given by this poster about the circus?
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