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Author Topic: Confusing Grammar Questions  (Read 123 times)
Justine Aragones
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« on: December 14, 2017, 10:56:41 PM »

Sir, what do call the underlined phrase in the sentence below and how can I use that?

Instead of worrying about the past (which cannot be changed) or the future (which may never come to pass) we are called to be mindful, accepting ourselves now and savoring what the present has to offer.

Can I use relative pronoun “which” to rewrite the sentence: “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, depleting it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow.” into “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, which depletes it of Vitamin A and restricts blood flow.”


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Joe Carillo
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017, 08:39:22 AM »



Let’s take a close look at the first sentence you presented (italicization mine): “Instead of worrying about the past (which cannot be changed) or the future (which may never come to pass) we are called to be mindful, accepting ourselves now and savoring what the present has to offer.”

I look at the italicized part, “accepting ourselves now and savoring what the present has to offer,” as a compound participial phrase functioning as an adjective to modify the subject “we.” The two participial phrases are, of course, “accepting ourselves now” and “savoring what the present has to offer” compounded into one modifying phrase. Take note that this modifying phrase can be repositioned in that sentence with precisely the same modifying effect: “We are called to be mindful, accepting ourselves now and savoring what the present has to offer, instead of worrying about the past (which cannot be changed) or the future (which may never come to pass).”

Now let’s take a look at this second sentence that you presented (italicization mine): “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, depleting it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow.” The italicized part, “depleting it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow,” is likewise a compound participial phrase functioning as an adjective to modify the subject “smoking.” The two participial phrases this time are “depleting it of Vitamin A” and “and restricting blood flow” compounded into one modifying phrase. Take note that this modifying phrase can be repositioned in that sentence with precisely the same modifying effect: “Smoking prematurely ages skin, depleting it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow, by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity.”

You ask if that sentence can be rewritten so it can use the relative pronoun “which,” as follows: “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, which will deplete it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow.” Offhand the sentence may look grammatically and structurally correct, but a closer look reveals that the modification done by the phrase “which will deplete it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow” is problematic. We really can’t be absolutely sure this time what that compound phrase is modifying, the very proximate noun “elasticity” or the nouns “proteins” and “skin” that come before it (“elasticity”). What has happened is that the phrase is now a squinting modifier, which of course is a very bad thing that should be avoided.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 02:10:49 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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