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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 5th, 2016, 02:31 am
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Default Can you use the simple present or simple future for participial phrases?

I have read a lot of sentences with participial phrases which all use the simple past. I am going to write down some sentences from the website, www.k12reader.com.
(1) Shivering, the couple ran out of the rain and into the house.
(2) Sweeping across the night sky, the bats hunted their prey.
(3) Quickly checking over his answers, Patrick handed in his test just before time ran out.
(4) Excited about dinner, Henry ran the whole way home.
(5) Frightened by the loud fireworks, the dog hid under the couch.
(6) Injured during the soccer match, Marco had to leave the field.

I heard from some native English speakers that you could use the simple present and the simple future as well.
I would like to make up several sentences with these tenses.

(A) Reading his past diary, he recalls the special moments he had with his best childhood friend.
(B) Running down the street at high speed, Jill will catch the next bus on time.
(C) Bumping into his enemy in the park, he punches him instantly.

(D) Impressed with his student's talent, the teacher considers giving her an award.
(E) Surprised by his son's misbehavior, the father will punish him.
(F) Frustrated by his failing grade in math, Tom throws a rock at his teacher.

Are my sentences (A) to (F) totally wrong? I really don't know how to make up sentences with participial phrases in the simple present and the simple future. Please show me how to do it. Thank you very much.
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Unread Jul 5th, 2016, 08:01 am
Sue
 
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Location: Milan
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Default Re: Can you use the simple present or simple future for participial phrases?

Think about the meaning. Grammar is meaning and if you combine two ideas with incompatible meaning, then the sentences makes no sense - for example : I'll probably go to London the day before yesterday.

will + simple infinitive expresses a prediction which refers to an event that can be present (eg you hear the doorbell and say That will be John because you know that he said he would arrive at this time) or future (eg I'll probably go to London tomorrow). But it can never be past. Will plus simple infinitive doesn't express past time, so to combine it with a past time adverbial like the day before yesterday makes no sense.

So what you need to ask yourself is whether the meaning of the verb forms in the two clauses is compatible. A participle clause may express a present event or a past event - So eg in a review of a short story, where the writer is explaining what happens in the story, s/he might say

(A) Reading his past diary, he recalls the special moments he had with his best childhood friend. (= When he reads...)
(C) Bumping into his enemy in the park, he punches him instantly. (=When he bumps..)
(D) Impressed with his student's talent, the teacher considers giving her an award. (= Because he is impressed ...)
(F) Frustrated by his failing grade in math, Tom throws a rock at his teacher. (= Because he is frustrated...)


Notice the reason for the use of the simple present in the second clause - the writer is describing a story and therefore chooses to express it as a "permanent" event - any time you read the story it will be like that. Obviously the writer could have chosen to present it as a narrative and would therefore have chosen past verbs :

[i](A) Reading his past diary, he recalled the special moments he had with his best childhood friend. (= When he read...)
(C) Bumping into his enemy in the park, he punched him instantly. (=When he bumped..)
(D) Impressed with his student's talent, the teacher considered giving her an award. (= Because he was impressed ...)


Notice that this isn't the case in your examples B and E where the event in the main clause is future. So the meaning of the two clauses is incompatible :
*When Jill is/was running.... she will catch the bus
*Because he is/was surprised... his father will punish him



Of course, so called "present" verbs can often express future events too - eg
[i]I'm going to London tomorrow.
if/When you work at the factory, you'll earn twice as much as you do now.

However, the only time a participle clause can express the prediction of a future event is when it is equivalent to a "If/when" clause" :

Working at the factory, you'll earn twice as much as you do now.

and that's not the case with either of your sentences B or E. You couldn't start the sentences eg
*When Jill runs... etc
*When his father is surprised ... etc


So in B and E the meaning if the participle clause is still incompatible with the meaning of the main clause and the combination is therefore impossible.

The only possibility would be, for B at least, if the participle was part of a prepositional phrase with by, explaining how Jill could catch the bus :

By running at top speed all the way to the bus stop, Jill will probably be able to catch the bus. (= if she runs...)
Another example
You'll only annoy him by phoning him. ( = if you phone him)

However, notice two things here - a) these are no longer participle clauses - and so are different from your original examples; and b) there's nothing special about will. It's not "the future simple" but just a modal verb expressing (in the examples we've used) prediction. i could change it to any other modal verb expressing the same meaning :

By running at top speed all the way to the bus stop, Jill will probably be able to catch the bus.
By running at top speed all the way to the bus stop, Jill should be able to catch the bus.
By running at top speed all the way to the bus stop, Jill might be able to catch the bus.
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