Independent clauses and independent phrases.


The spectators leaped to their feet, and they roared approval.
-> The spectators leaped to their feet, roaring approval.



Can we say "and they roard approval" modifes "leaped" or the sentence in front ?


If not, "roaring approval" modifes "leaped" or the sentence in front in the second example or none?



What do you think? Thank you so much.

edited Sep 03 '12 at 09:17 Hans Contributor

2 answers


First, I would add the word with before approval - they roared with approval or roaring with approval.


The first example has two independent clauses.  That means that each part could stand as its own sentence.  The spectators leapt to their feet.  They roared with approval.  You have correctly joined them together with a comma and a conjunction.


The second example adds a dependent clause after the comma.  It cannot stand alone and modifies the independent clause that it follows.  That means that it is providing additional information about what the spectators were doing when they leaped.  The dependent clause is modifying the entire independent clause, not just the verb.   

link answered Sep 03 '12 at 10:09 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Can we think "roaring with approval" modify the verb by any chance? And people say that clauses followed by adverbial conjunctions such as when, after, before ,etc modifies the whole sentence but sometimes I feel like meaning is the same when they modify just the verb. For example, "I ran away when I saw her yesterday". Do you think "when clause-" modifies the whole sentence in front or the verb, "ran away"? Or either way is okay and the meaning is the same? Thank you.

HansSep 03 '12 at 11:41

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This answer is responding to Kwang hee Han's comment following Patty's answer.


No, I read and hear the dependent clause as modifying the entire main clause. Consider, you feel the clause "roaring with approval" can be said to modify the verb "leaped." But an argument can also be made that the clause is modifying the subject. For instance, "Roaring with approval, the crowd leaped ..." or "The crowd, roaring with approval, leaped ..." In both those sentences, the clause "feels" more closely associated with the subject. (In fact, in the second example, the dependent clause is a parenthetical that is grammatically tied to the subject.) In a sense, it is because we cannot agree on what is being modified that we say it is the entire main clause that is modified.


So the "when clause" modifies the entire main clause -- at least by definition. And because that is how linguists and grammarians define it, it is wrong to say it only modifies the verb. Finally, as a native speaker, I can't manage to wrap my mind around what it might mean for it to modify only the verb. I just can't divorce the subject from my thoughts.


I hope this helps.

link comment answered Sep 03 '12 at 17:41 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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