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I read a sentence in which "while" was used in different stile.

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

Why don't we have a complete sentence (a verb) after "while"?

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while they are leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Why is it incorrect?

When we use "Gerund" after "while?

and last question: Is this correct too?

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, by leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

closed as off-topic by Kris, FumbleFingers, Robusto, Drew, tchrist Apr 3 '15 at 3:11

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  • 'they're are leaving' as you wish to understand it that way is implicit in the 1st sentence. – Andy Semyonov Apr 2 '15 at 7:49
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    Note that "stile" and "style" are completely different things. – Robusto Apr 2 '15 at 11:12
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    This question is better asked on English Language Learners Suggesting migration. – Kris Apr 2 '15 at 11:20
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Collins lists this syntactic usage as a subordinator:

while

conj

  1. (subordinating) at the same time that: please light the fire while I'm cooking.
  2. (subordinating) all the time that: I stay inside while it's raining.
  3. (subordinating) in spite of the fact that: while I agree about his brilliance I still think he's rude.
  4. (coordinating) whereas; and in contrast: flats are expensive, while houses are cheap.

5. (subordinating; used with a gerund [better, ing-form]) during the activity of: while walking I often whistle. [/ I often whistle while walking.]

Obviously this involves a deletion of I am after while.

However, the pragmatic force of contrast present in sense 4 above is also involved here:

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while they leave the desired crop relatively unharmed. = Selective herbicides kill specific targets, but they leave the desired crop relatively unharmed.

Collins misses this usage (but at the same time [used with ing-form]).

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Your first and 2nd sentences do not mean the same.

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

The bolded means:

while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed = and the manner in which they do the killing leaves the desired crop relatively unharmed

This

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, by leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

is wrong, because

"kill ... by leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed"

means that the mechanism of killing consists of "leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed," which is false.

Your 1st sentence is correct in that respect.

For one thing,

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while they are leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

is incorrect because "they" has an ambiguous pronoun reference: it can be seen as referring "Selective herbicides" or "targets," the latter by proximity.

For another, the bolded in:

Selective herbicides kill specific targets, while they are leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

means:

while they are leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed = and at the same time they are leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed.

Thus the 2nd parts of 1 and 2 do not mean quite the same.

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