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Sentence 1:

Punting slowly across the canal, I turned my torch on, eyes focusing on the ripples ahead.

Sentence 2:

Punting slowly across the canal, I turned my torch on, eyes focused on the ripples ahead.

Sentence 1 is present participle, indicating active voice

Sentence 2 is past participle, indicating passive voice

Which is grammatically correct? The eyes are focusing, so I assume it is active voice, but both seem correct to my ears.

If both are correct, why? Is there a difference in meaning?

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Both seem correct to me without any real difference in meaning. Focused implies that your eyes are in that state already while focusing indicates that the process of getting focused may not yet have been completed. Splitting hairs, really.
CB
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Yeah, it seems correct to me too!

But it still comes back to the rule:

Passive voice uses past participle

Active voice uses present participle

In other words, it cannot be one of the other. Unless there is some exception to the rule or something...

I really want to get to the bottom of this.

Cheers

Eddie
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Both are fine, as CB has said, and there is no real difference in intent. 'Focusing' states the action; 'focused' states the condition of the eyes. It boils down to the same thing.
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Hi there!

Thanks for that; both sound correct to me too!

But I was recently told that the past participle is used ONLY for the passive voice, and the present participle is used ONLY for the active voice.

Therefore, according to this, the present participle is the only one that can be used here, as this is an active voice construction..

Have I been ill-informed as to when the present or past participle is used?

Thanks in advance.
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I think ill-informed. It sounds overly prescriptive to me.
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Argh, I've tried sending this message three times now.

Anyway, I was informed of this by Alpehcca. So I possibly miscronstrued what was said.

Perhaps she was meaning the this:

"I was informed of this by Alpehcca"

The passive voice, like in the sentence above, as you know, has the verb 'to be' followed by the past participle.

Thus, this is maybe what Alphecca was implying:

Passive Voice-Only past participle

Active Voice- Either can be used

Let me know if you think otherwise!

Cheers
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I don't understand the restriction of voice. Both participles are used here in nonfinite modifying clauses, and as AS says (if she said that), -ing is an active ending (is carrying) while -ed can be either active (have carried) or passive (is carried by), but both can be worked into sentences that intend to convey essentially the same thing:

Faced with ruin, he blew his brains out.
Facing ruin, he blew his brains out.

I moaned and groaned, my aching head rested on the table.
I moaned and groaned, my aching head resting on the table.
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So you agree with Alphecca that the passive voice always uses past participle, and the active voice uses either participle form; this makes sense to me.

I moaned and groaned, my aching head rested on the table.

I would have thought this was a comma splice; that is, two main clauses are joined by a comma (rested is a finite verb in the past tense).

But I do see what you mean; both forms can be used conveying the same meaning.

Cheers
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