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" I hurt my knee playing soccer " Is this sentence right? If yes, how come?

marked as duplicate by Nicole, FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, Chenmunka, Misti Feb 20 '15 at 18:03

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The sentence could be rewritten

I, playing soccer, hurt my knee.

The participle playing is used as an adjective, modifying I.

It also could be read as

I hurt my knee [while I was] playing soccer.

Both constructions work. Words are often implied [and omitted] in English.

  • So it is totally fine to omit "While". I mean I know it's valid to say " I hurt my knee while playing football ", but still valid with omitting "While"? And is it academically known? Thanks for your help BTW. – Mazen Draou Feb 17 '15 at 22:29
  • Yes it is. There is no ambiguity or oddness about your construction. – bib Feb 17 '15 at 22:33
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    Note that what’s being left out is not necessarily while: it can also very commonly be by (or on or some other preposition). If you hurt your knee playing soccer, the meaning most commonly intended is that you hurt your knee by playing soccer (playing soccer is the reason that you hurt your knee). On the other hand, if you fell asleep playing soccer, there is no doubt that while is what’s left out, and if you blew all your money playing soccer, on is what’s left out. With by/on/etc., you cannot add “I was”, since they cannot take clauses as their objects. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 17 '15 at 23:13
  • @JanusBahsJacquet All excellent points. I think they deserve an answer. – bib Feb 18 '15 at 13:13
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    @Mazen Draou "I hurt my knee while/when I was playing soccer" may be shortened to "I hurt my knee while/when playing soccer" and further to "I hurt my knee playing soccer". But "I hurt my knee playing soccer", as Janus says, may be short for "I hurt my knee through playing soccer" etc. The more you omit, the more people have to guess at. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 19 '15 at 11:05

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