COMMA+-ING Vs noun modifier

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COMMA+-ING Vs noun modifier

by magic monkey » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:29 am
I've read through a lot of cases and threads on COMMA + -ING, but still have a few questions left and not solved. Hope there's anyone else who could bring an end to it. Thanks!

(I will just quote a really small part of OG analysis below, hope it will not violate the rules on the forum)

Questions and analysis below:

question 1: Is it possible that COMMA + -ING could serve as a noun modifier.
It seems so in OG.

All the following ones make sense when considered as a noun modifier, WHILE it's also ok as an adverbial modifier!
OG12 SC 30 --- comma + protecting (1) noun & adverbial modifier
OG13 SC 48 --- comma + covering
OG13 SC 66 --- comma + absorbing

OG13 SC 62 --- Rivaling + comma + Subject (2) noun & adverbial
OG13 SC 69 --- Affording + comma + Subject
OG13 SC 25 --- Subject, having amassed, Main Verb (3) noun & adverbial

---
in (1), all comma+-ING's seem to modify the preceding noun as well as the subject+verb pair.
OG12-SC-30 --- sheilds were essential items, protecting warriors ...
OG13-SC-48 --- the landlocked Caspian is actually ... lake on Earth, covering ...
OG13-SC-66 --- the Army Corps proposed ... to shore a breakwater that would act as a buffer, absorbing ...

in (2) & (3), they, if possible, modify the SUBJECT of the clause it's touching as well as the subject+verb/the whole clause.

question 2: in (1), is it ok just because of these special verbs as BE, ACT as, etc. ?
I don't know yet.

---
but in some Official Explanation, GMAT seems to admit that it's a possibility of using COMMA + -ING as a noun modifier ONLY modifying the preceding noun \ object, not a subject.

For instance,
1. OG13-SC-25, when analyzing an incorrect choice D:
Neuroscientists have amassed ... and ... from birth to adulthood, now drawing ...
OE: The final descriptor, now drawing conclusions, ... and seems to modify adulthood.

OG does consider the preceding noun adulthood as a grammatical possible choice for comma + drawing.

2. OG13-SC-35, when analyzing B,
the pilot JC held seventeen ... records, earning them at ....
OE: Here, the word earning takes the pilot herself, not the records, as its subject. However, earning is close to the records, not to Jacqueline Cochran, making this sentence hard to process.

However, we don't see any of those above really existing in official correct choices.


question 3: So how should we treat this problem?
i.e.
Will it be OK for COMMA+-ING to modify just a preceding noun, in formal written English and/or in GMAT?

1) if not, then why?
2) and if so, what's the difference between a NONCOMMA+-ING and a COMMA+-ING noun modifier?


just to put one more for your reference,
if in OG13 SC-35, it will be ok for a COMMA+-ED (, earned ...) to modify its preceding noun (records),
why couldn't a COMMA+-ING do so for a sake of understanding
, like that maybe the whole modifier is too long to understand easily if not moved apart by a comma, or something like that?[/b][/i]
in many other aspects, they are working just like each other.

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by lunarpower » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:48 pm
All of the examples you've cited follow the normal rule.

"¢Â og12 #30: The modifier describes "were essential items". It's the reason why they were essential items.

"¢Â og13 #48: The modifier describes "is ... the largest lake on Earth". It substantiates that statistical statement.

"¢Â og13 #66: The modifier describes "act as a buffer". It says how the breakwater will act as a buffer.

I see what you're saying here, but ...
... you don't need to consider these "exceptions", since, as I've shown, they aren't exceptions;
... the above analyses are more accurate, anyway.

Explanation of the latter comment:
When __ing is used to describe a noun, it's not used to say why something is that kind of noun.
E.g., Students taking advanced calculus must come to school earlier than other students. In this sentence, "taking advanced calculus" is not the reason why these people are students; it's just something that the students are doing.
By contrast, "protecting" is actually the reason why these pieces of military equipment were essential. And so on with the others. So, these modifiers are perfect descriptors for "is ____", "act(s) as ____", and so forth.

So, nope--nothing new to learn.
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by lunarpower » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:50 pm
There IS one exception of which you should be aware, though.
Namely, if comma + __ing follows only a noun, rather than a full sentence/clause, then it modifies only that noun. (It can't do anything else!)

E.g.,
Roberta, having just finished her first marathon, collapsed onto the floor.
Here, "having..." just describes Roberta. However, it still needs to have a fundamental relationship to the following part (i.e., she collapsed because she had just run 26.2 miles).

Or look at OG 13th #25.
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by magic monkey » Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:46 pm
lunarpower wrote:All of the examples you've cited follow the normal rule.

"¢Â og12 #30: The modifier describes "were essential items". It's the reason why they were essential items.

"¢Â og13 #48: The modifier describes "is ... the largest lake on Earth". It substantiates that statistical statement.

"¢Â og13 #66: The modifier describes "act as a buffer". It says how the breakwater will act as a buffer.

I see what you're saying here, but ...
... you don't need to consider these "exceptions", since, as I've shown, they aren't exceptions;
... the above analyses are more accurate, anyway.

Explanation of the latter comment:
When __ing is used to describe a noun, it's not used to say why something is that kind of noun.
E.g., Students taking advanced calculus must come to school earlier than other students. In this sentence, "taking advanced calculus" is not the reason why these people are students; it's just something that the students are doing.
By contrast, "protecting" is actually the reason why these pieces of military equipment were essential. And so on with the others. So, these modifiers are perfect descriptors for "is ____", "act(s) as ____", and so forth.

So, nope--nothing new to learn.

Thanks for your answer, Ron. Then what do you think of the following statements in OG?
magic monkey wrote: but in some Official Explanation, GMAT seems to admit that there's a possibility of using COMMA + -ING as a noun modifier ONLY modifying the preceding noun \ object, not a subject.

For instance,
1. OG13-SC-25, when analyzing an incorrect choice D:
Neuroscientists have amassed ... and ... from birth to adulthood, now drawing ...
OE: The final descriptor, now drawing conclusions, ... and seems to modify adulthood.

OG does consider the preceding noun adulthood as a grammatical possible choice for comma + drawing.

2. OG13-SC-35, when analyzing B,
the pilot JC held seventeen ... records, earning them at ....
OE: Here, the word earning takes the pilot herself, not the records, as its subject. However, earning is close to the records, not to Jacqueline Cochran, making this sentence hard to process.

However, we don't see any of those above really existing in official correct choices.

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by magic monkey » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:08 am
to put one more case on this,
OG13 SC 87, a cloud of energized particles triggered a storm, brightening and knocking out ...

in OE, it says "The cloud triggered a large storm, whose consequences were the brightening ... and the possible knocking out ... ".

does it mean that it is the storm's consequences not the cloud's that were the brightening and knocking out.

and in the meanwhile, I was thinking about whether it is possible for a cloud to be the subject of actions as brightening and knocking out. It seems that the storm triggered would be more likely to be so.

if the phrase brightening and knocking out is an adverbial modifier, then cloud should make the actions itself, right?

what do you think on this analysis in OG?

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by magic monkey » Fri Jun 13, 2014 9:44 pm
Hi Ron, there're two more correct sentences that seem to use comma Ving as a noun modifier, have a look:

OG13 SC 122 --- a firm claims to ... asess ... traits, including ....

OG13 SC 40 --- ..., only if non-OPEC nations, including Norway ..., trim output ...

what should we get out from them?

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by magic monkey » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:11 am
I found a new one in OE.

OG13 SC 104, OE on B
In her illustrations, carefully coordinating them ..., BP capitalized
Phrase carefully coordinating ... illogically modifies the noun that immediately precedes it: book illustrations.

Here OE explicitly points out comma doing does modifier the preceding noun illustrations. Should we think so?

Also, OG13 SC 106, OE on B
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, having the ability ...,a technique ...
second modifier (having...) actually modifies the first modifier.

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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:41 am
magic monkey wrote:to put one more case on this,
OG13 SC 87, a cloud of energized particles triggered a storm, brightening and knocking out ...

in OE, it says "The cloud triggered a large storm, whose consequences were the brightening ... and the possible knocking out ... ".

does it mean that it is the storm's consequences not the cloud's that were the brightening and knocking out.

and in the meanwhile, I was thinking about whether it is possible for a cloud to be the subject of actions as brightening and knocking out. It seems that the storm triggered would be more likely to be so.

if the phrase brightening and knocking out is an adverbial modifier, then cloud should make the actions itself, right?

what do you think on this analysis in OG?
The whole point of the comma -ing modifier is that you don't have to pin it specifically on one word. The point is that it's talking about the entire idea in the preceding part.

I think you're thinking too much about rules here, and not nearly enough about examples that actually work.

For example, here's an example that actually works:
I dropped the bags onto the floor, scaring the dogs.

If you try to pin "scaring the dogs" on a single word, you won't think that it works. (I didn't personally scare the dogs. And, obviously, the dogs are not scared of the floor.)
The point is that my action of dropping the bags onto the floor--the whole thing described in the previous part--scared the dogs.
That's how these modifiers work.

If you think about this, you'll realize that it's an absolutely essential function.
If you had to be able to pin every modifier on one single word, then literally every sentence like this would have to contain something like "this action" or "this behavior" or "this event".
That would clearly be a terrible thing. So, we have these modifiers that can describe entire sentences at one time. Because you'll want to do that. Very often.
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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:42 am
Also of note--

If you peruse the OG explanations, it will become clear that they aren't written by the same people who write the questions.
Specifically, it's clear that ...
... gmac's best writers write and/or edit the questions (and don't spend their time writing explanations);
... their less capable writers write the explanations.

This makes perfect sense from an economic perspective (give the less important work to the less capable people). Moreover, it's clearly the ideal situation; you wouldn't want the problems to come from the B-list writers.

But, you have to realize that the explanations are often imperfect.
Sometimes they're just straight-up wrong.
(If an explanation is ever limited to "that's awkward" or "that's wordy", then it is overlooking at least one actual error that the explanation writer just didn't know how to explain. After all, "wordy" and "awkward", while undesirable, are not actually errors.)
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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:50 am
magic monkey wrote:Hi Ron, there're two more correct sentences that seem to use comma Ving as a noun modifier, have a look:

OG13 SC 122 --- a firm claims to ... asess ... traits, including ....

OG13 SC 40 --- ..., only if non-OPEC nations, including Norway ..., trim output ...

what should we get out from them?
"Including", when used in this way, is not actually a ___ing word. It's a different word, that (coincidentally) happens to be spelled with __ing on the end.

See here:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/stone-age-t36393.html#296165
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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:57 am
magic monkey wrote:I found a new one in OE.

OG13 SC 104, OE on B
In her illustrations, carefully coordinating them ..., BP capitalized
Phrase carefully coordinating ... illogically modifies the noun that immediately precedes it: book illustrations.

Here OE explicitly points out comma doing does modifier the preceding noun illustrations. Should we think so?

Also, OG13 SC 106, OE on B
Originally developed for detecting air pollutants, having the ability ...,a technique ...
second modifier (having...) actually modifies the first modifier.
"¢Â These are wrong answers.

"¢Â As noted above, the OG explanations are not infallible. If you see "seems to..." in one of the explanations, that often--not necessarily 100% of the time, but often--indicates that the authors are hedging; they're not totally confident about what is actually wrong with that answer choice. Yes, really.

"¢ Yes, there is a "comma + __ing" that can attach to a noun.
E.g.,
Valéry, engrossed in his book, did not notice that his plane was leaving.
"Engrossed in his book" clearly describes Valéry.
Still--just as in the case of the other comma + __ing constructions--there must be a definite and obvious relationship to the rest of the clause. Here, there is: Because he was so preoccupied with the book, Valéry missed his flight even though he was sitting right there in the airport.

It's essentially impossible to confound this construction with the more common "comma + __ing", because they look completely different from each other. One just comes after a noun; the other (the more common one) comes after an entire sentence.
(If you're trying to apply "rules" without noticing the constructions to which you apply them, then, well, you shouldn't be doing that.)
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by iongmat » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:25 am
This is very interesting discussion.

Hello magic monkey, can you let me know why you say that the -ing forms in OG12 SC 30 and OG13 SC 62 can be interpreted as as adverbial modifiers? It seems to me that -ing forms here are directly modifying the nouns "animal-hide shields" and "the armv of terra-cotta warriors" respectively.

I in fact believe that "gathering information...." is an adverbial modifier here:

Like the great navigators who first sailed around the Earth gathering information about its size and the curvature of its surface, astronomers have made new observations that show with startling directness the large-scale geometry of the universe.

Ron, I had a question about the following correct sentence:

The original building and loan associations were organized as limited life funds, whose members made monthly payments on their share subscriptions and then took turns drawing on the funds for home mortgages.

"drawing" is a "-ing" modifier without a preceding comma. So, as per my knowledge, it should either modify the preceding noun "turns" or some preceding "noun phrase". But, here it does not make sense for "drawing" to modify "turns" (because "turns" are not drawing on funds) or any other preceding "noun phrase".

Can you advice.

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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:13 pm
It can describe turns.

They took turns.
- Turns doing what? / What kind of turns?
Turns drawing xxxxx stuff.

If you really don't like that, then you can just remember it as an "idiom".
That works, too, although it's a slippery slope. I.e., it's easy to slip into a pattern of classifying everything as an "idiom".
The problem is that, soon, you'll have 63,265,866,485,922 different "idioms" and almost no meaningful patterns. That's bad, of course.
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by lunarpower » Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:15 pm
More generally--Your understanding of patterns and constructions should not be totally static.

It should have some "kernel" of understanding--i.e., a "core" understanding that represents the essence of a particular concept--but you should be willing to tweak it / grow it / adjust it as you continue to learn.

... Because, if you don't, then you're NOT "continuing to learn".
(:
If you do 100 problems, and finish with exactly the same understanding that you started with, then guess how much you learned?
...yep, nothing.


Language does a lot of stuff. You can't learn all of it at once.
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by magic monkey » Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:31 pm
lunarpower wrote:
magic monkey wrote:Hi Ron, there're two more correct sentences that seem to use comma Ving as a noun modifier, have a look:

OG13 SC 122 --- a firm claims to ... asess ... traits, including ....

OG13 SC 40 --- ..., only if non-OPEC nations, including Norway ..., trim output ...

what should we get out from them?
"Including", when used in this way, is not actually a ___ing word. It's a different word, that (coincidentally) happens to be spelled with __ing on the end.

See here:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/stone-age-t36393.html#296165
Got it, and including is actually a preposition.