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There is a following expression:

Having known him for more than 10 years since we were at the same school, I am sure that...

This sentence seems weird to me. What it is trying to say is:

I have known him for more than 10 years ..., I am sure that...

Is it grammatically and stylistically correct to use 'having known' here? Can you suggest a way how to avoid using 'having known'?

4

The phrase having known him ... is a participle phrase modifying the subject of the main clause, I. This construction is perfectly fine and is often used.

It could be reordered to

I, having known him ... , am sure that ...

This alternate construction is a bit clumsy because the subject of the sentence is separated from its verb by a very long phrase. There are various alternatives such as using a compound sentence

I have known him ... , and I am sure ...

or

Because I have known him ..., I am sure ...

  • N.B. though that under at least some approaches, the clause [having known him] would be analysed as having its own (covert) subject; the paraphrase you suggest doesn't necessarily "explain" the construction. – Neil Coffey Sep 25 '13 at 20:52
  • @NeilCoffey A common problem in sentence construction is the misplaced modifier, in which the modifying phrase is closest to the wrong subject of the modification. This is not the case here. It seems clear that the who that knows him is I. It could also be paraphrased as I, who have known him ..., am sure ... A participle phrase, instead of a dependent clause is a standard alternative. – bib Sep 25 '13 at 21:46
  • @bib Realistically, it's unlikely to be paraphrased in that way, though. I think you're trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist and in the process simply mangling an otherwise natural and comprehensible sentence. – Neil Coffey Sep 26 '13 at 1:09
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Having studied English for more years than I care to remember, I am sure that the construction is entirely acceptable. More than 10 years since we were at the same school might give a stern critic pause, as being at school isn't a point in time but rather a period; since we met at school might be better. That, though, is a semantic point; there is nothing wrong with the construction of the sentence. It does have a formal sound, but if this is some sort of reference that is all to the good.

Your suggested replacement is noticeably worse than the original. At present it is a comma splice, trying to cram two sentences into one and so not having an identifiable main verb, subject or other required components. If you replaced the comma before I am sure with a semicolon it would be grammatical, but lose the causal relationship.

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The original construction is correct and sounds fine to me, but if you are uncomfortable with it you could try "I have known him for more than 10 years since we were at the same school, so I am sure that..." There is an implication that ten years' knowledge of the person allows the speaker to be sure of whatever follows.

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