Today's post is all about a common mistake we see with -ing verb phrases.
When a sentence starts with a -ing verb clause (a present participle, in case you like to know that sort of thing), followed by a comma and then the rest of the sentence, it's generally implied that the action in both parts of the sentence are taking place at the same time, not consecutively.
Used correctly, that might look like this:
Trying to climb the wall, I scraped my knee.
Raising his hand, he shouted out the answer.
Grumbling, she walked away.
Purring, the cat settled down for a snuggle.
In all these cases, the two actions are going on at the same time. That's because the -ing verb clause (present participle) acts as an adverb, describing how the sentence's main action happened.
But sometimes, authors slip up and use this type of sentence structure with two actions that are meant to be consecutive, like these incorrect examples:
Putting on her coat, she waved goodbye. (She's probably not waving as she's putting on the coat.)
Kissing his spouse, he said good morning.
Taking out the book, she flipped to page ten.
Some of these you can get away with, especially when the two actions are close to concurrent actions, like taking out a book and flipping the pages. But if you really want to have a clear sequence of events, it's easier to just alter the first phrase slightly.
After she put on her coat, she waved goodbye.
Once he'd read the blog post, the author felt excited to begin revising again.
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