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So here is the question:

His eyes, still on me, were blazing with fury.

I know for sure this sentence is correct. But what about these:

Still on me, his eyes were blazing with fury. and

His eyes were blazing with fury, still on me.

These sentences look quite unnatural to me, even clumsy. Can you guys tell me if these sentences are correct?

closed as off-topic by choster, tchrist, user66974, Centaurus, anongoodnurse Oct 28 '15 at 5:11

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  • Third one is wrong. Needs to be: His eyes, blazing with fury, were still on me. or His eyes were blazing with fury and [were] still on me. – Jim Jul 27 '15 at 18:36
  • So the second one is right? – sooeithdk Jul 27 '15 at 18:39
  • Yes. Now, consider the grammaticality of this: "His eyes were still on me, blazing with fury." – Jake Regier Jul 27 '15 at 18:40
  • Ok. I must admit that sounds better. But why is third one wrong and second one is right? – sooeithdk Jul 27 '15 at 18:47
  • Still on me is an example of a nonrestrictive clause (see link at the end of this comment). Nonrestrictive clauses modify that which they are adjacent to. So the second example is correct because still on me is modifying his eyes; the third example is incorrect because still on me is modifying fury. quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/… – Jake Regier Jul 27 '15 at 18:52
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Still on me, his eyes were blazing with fury.

This sentence is kosher, but I agree it sounds clumsy. I suppose it's because it starts out with a static feeling, perhaps because of the other possible meaning of still (not moving). This contradicts the feeling of movement in blazing with fury -- for example, flames dancing in a fire.

The first sentence, *His eyes, still on me, were blazing with fury," works so much better because the focus remains more clearly on his eyes.

His eyes were blazing with fury, still on me.

As someone explained in a comment, in this case, "still on me" would be describing fury, which doesn't quite work. "Still aimed at me" would work, technically, although in the context this doesn't make a lot of sense.

  • I don't think any difference between static and motion is behind why that version sounds so clumsy. Consider that if you switch the two descriptors, it's must more natural-sounding: “Still blazing with fury, his eyes were on me”. I think it's more that beginning a sentence with a whiz-deleted nonrestrictive clause with no verbal constituent (in the shape of a participle) tends to sound clumsy, especially is there's an adverb present as well. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 28 '15 at 21:31

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