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Can you explain which one is true and why?

1) Founded in 1636, Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the United States

2) Being founded in 1636, Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the United States

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    Not really on-topic, but if one is true, so is the other. If you want to know whether one or both sentences are correct, then correct is the word to use. Asking if they are true is asking whether the meaning of the sentence is a lie or not: An elephant is smaller than a mouse is false, but a correct sentence; Mouse smaller is elephant than is true, but the sentence is incorrect. – oerkelens May 28 '14 at 7:06
  • You are right - I needed to be more precise. However, I also think that the title was given so that one can understand what is being asked. – boburShox Apr 1 '15 at 17:53
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According to Wikipedia, your statement 1) is factually true.

The second statement is not so straightforward. To a native speaker, constructions having the format "Being X, Y is the case" imply that because X is X, it logically follows that Y is the case. Taking your second query sentence,

Being founded in 1636, Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the United States

the implication is therefore that

Because it was founded in 1636, Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the United States

While the earliness of its foundation presumably did help Harvard to become famous, its fame was not caused by the university having been founded in 1636.

Let's take another example:

3) I was at a loose end, and had time on my hands. I decided to explore Boston's harbour.

These are direct statements of fact. No direct causal relationship is asserted between my circumstances as described in the first sentence of 3) and the decision I made to explore Boston's harbour.

However, if we modify 3) as follows,

4) Being at a loose end, and having time on my hands, I decided to explore Boston's harbour.

there is a significant shift in meaning to

Because I was at a loose end and had time on my hands, I made the decision to explore Boston's harbour.

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  • 1
    +1. By the way, the solution to such a non sequitur is to break the sentence into two. "Harvard was founded in 1636. It is one…" – Potatoswatter May 28 '14 at 8:25
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Since I am too lazy to look up the history of Harvard University, I won't tell you if the statements are true. :)

However, the first sentence is correct.

The second sentence would mean the founding date is what caused the fame (thank you Erik Kowal).
A possible alternative would be to use the following:

Having been founded in 1636, Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the United States.

But the more concise version of 1) is preferable for readability. :)

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  • You wrote, "The second sentence somehow gives the idea that the university is being founded as we speak". This is not what the second sentence means; see the explanation in my posting. – Erik Kowal May 28 '14 at 8:07
  • @ErikKowal: you are correct. Coffee being taken, my answer was edited :) – oerkelens May 28 '14 at 8:15
  • I appreciate your little joke. :) – Erik Kowal May 28 '14 at 8:45

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