Consider the following two sentences:

[1] The boy is coming.
[2] The boy is singing. (at the same time)

How can I join the two sentences using a participle? Can I use any of the sentences below?

[3a] The boy comes singing.
[3b] The boy is coming while singing.
[3c] The boy is singing while coming.
[3d] The boy is coming singing.
[3e] The boy is coming, singing.

  • 3
    "The boy is singing while he comes." is the most clear, I think, but "The boy is coming, singing." has a nice poetry to it. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 8:55
  • 6
    Be aware that the verb to come has a slang meaning.
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 9:01
  • 2
    @Deadrat - why do you think it is not the intended meaning ?:)
    – user66974
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 9:41
  • 1
    @Josh61 Probably a projection of my own lack of musical talent.
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 9:48
  • 1
    3a is also clear to me and the most succinct
    – NibblyPig
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 10:00

4 Answers 4


As English has very limited inflectional morphology, sometimes it becomes really difficult to recognize finite verb form the non finite (verbals). The poster poses exactly that glaring problem area.

We know finite verbs are bound in time, space and aspects in its relation to subjects; verbals have no such obligations.The paradox of the situation is such that COMING / SINGING both qualify as finite verbs and one AND in-between is enough to solve it. But the environment surrounding the verbs is proof enough what is what :

  • Is coming — tensed participle

  • Singing —Verbal(non finite)

We are not bound by any rule to put these lookalikes together and we must not with due respect to their functional disparities and sanctity of semantic order.

Make SINGING the head word, the problem is solved. All other sentences where meaning can easily be gathered and which are not strained, reflect the sense to be convyed ; but never in "COMING SINGING" combination.

  • Coming is not a tensed verb; it is a non-finite verb form that carries no tense. Came, in contrast, is a tensed verb.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 21:00
  • We ordinarily consider the verb phrase, ' is coming ' as the verb in making present continuous tense; it may be treated from common man's perspective. Great things are too great for me Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 17:19

This might seem old-school but: "The boy comes a singing"

  • I'd go past "old-school" to "archaic" :) Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:25
  • hyphenate that: "he comes a-singing"
    – Dannid
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 16:03
[3b] The boy is coming while "he is" singing.
[3c] The boy is singing while "he is" coming.
[3e] The boy is coming, singing. 

I think this sounds ok. But I guess you must use "he is"

  • Sorry. I forgot it @janus-bahs-jacquet
    – John Doe
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 8:32
  • @Zan700 That was edited in after my comment. I'll delete my comment above since it's no longer relevant. Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 19:07

[3a] "The boy comes singing."

Grammar ok, Comparable to "Come dancing!" or "I come bearing gifts".

[3b] "The boy is coming while singing."

Grammar ok. Comparable to "The boy is drinking while driving"

[3c] "The boy is singing while coming."

Grammar ok. Comparable to "The boy is coughing while serving food."

[3d] "The boy is coming singing."


[3e] The boy is coming, singing.

Grammar ok. Comparable to "The boy is leaving, carrying his suitcase, laughing as he goes."

To put together "sing" and "come" a little better, use "as", without the second present participle:

"The boy is singing as he comes through the door."

"The boy is coming forward as he sings the last stanza"

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