Is there any difference between these two sentences:

  1. "The Democrats tend to increase taxes, discouraging rich people from voting for them"
  2. "The Democrats tend to increase taxes, which discourages rich poeople from voting for them"

The first version of course sound much more formal, but are there any other (less 'obvious') differences?

  • 2
    No difference. However, your other wording is off. You discourage people from doing something, not to. And the second version should use which, not what.
    – Barmar
    Feb 4, 2015 at 16:23
  • Yes, it's a type of reduced relative clause: which V -> V-ing. In the example, it's a nonrestrictive relative clause that goes with the verb phrase "increase taxes".
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 4, 2015 at 18:52
  • Thanks @Barmar for your comment and error-spotting, I corrected the question. However, would you agree to Raghuraman's answer?
    – user107917
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:03
  • Thanks @GregLee, so it's a gramatical difference, but would people care about this one (e.g. in a book, a non-formal conversation/document, ...) or are both ways equally common?
    – user107917
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:08
  • It's a little odd to say that there's a grammatical difference. The words are different. But both examples have nonrestrictive clauses, one is reduced and the other is not reduced.
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


First, there is no gerund involved here. 2nd version can be or is used in 'spoken' version. It cannot be used in a written form/version.

  • Can you provide a reference to a manual of style that confirms that the second is unacceptable in writing?
    – Barmar
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:16
  • Thanks for your answer. However, my own question confuses me right now... Do you happen to know how to refer to the difference between the two sentences in a more clear or correct way?
    – user107917
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:20
  • I'd say the first version is the one that should not be used in formal writing. Can you explain your objections to the second in more detail. Feb 4, 2015 at 22:50
  • @Barmar 'The Democrats tend to increase taxes, which discourages rich poeople from voting for them' : The issue is with using 'discourages'. It should be 'increase taxes, which discourage rich' or 'tax increase, which discourages rich'. Feb 5, 2015 at 5:29
  • it depends on whether you think the relative clause refers to taxes (plural) or to the action of increasing them (singular). I interpreted it as the latter, so discourages is correct.
    – Barmar
    Feb 5, 2015 at 5:51

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