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I was wondering if I should place a comma before "considering" in the following sentence only to clear things out.

For investigating the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage, fragility curves are generated separately, considering deterministic and probabilistic parameters for the structure.

Here is another sentence with the similar concern. I am wondering if I punctuated this complex sentence correctly.

Fragility curves for controlled structure, which is controlled by semi-active FLC, and uncontrolled structure, considering deterministic parameters, are shown in Fig. 9.

  • Sentence 2: What is 'considering deterministic parameters' referring to? There seems to be a lack of parallelism. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 31 '16 at 8:08
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Punctuation won't help you here. The considering participial clauses are what's known as nominative absolutes. The absolute part of their name means that they have little connection with the syntax of the independent clause to which they're attached. The nominative part of their name means that they are assumed to be related to the subject of the independent clause. Unfortunately, both your examples are in the passive voice (are generated and are shown), so that the subject of the independent clauses are the recipients of the predicates' actions. That is to say, the fragility curves are the things generated and demonstrated. But fragility curves aren't the ones doing the considering. The person doing the generating and demonstrating does that, and not only is that actor not the subject of either independent clause, he's not even mentioned.

This makes the absolutes dangling -- there's no syntactical handle for them to catch hold of.

It's possible to fix this and keep the absolutes by transposing the sentences to the active voice:

Considering deterministic and probabilistic parameters for the structure, I generated fragility curves separately to investigate the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage.

(I think the infinitive of purpose to investigate is better than the preposition for with the participle investigating, but that may be only a stylistic consideration.)

As absolutes are wont to do, the considering in part applies to the subject and in part to the predicate, both identifying the generator as the one considering and modifying the generating by telling us how the generating was done.

But there's no reason to be coy (and good reason to avoid coyness) in technical writing. A straightforward syntax would be preferable:

I considered deterministic and probabilistic parameters for the structure, before I generated fragility curves to investigate the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage.

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For investigating the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage, fragility curves are generated separately, considering deterministic and probabilistic parameters for the structure.

With all the rules of commas, and when you use a lot of or lengthy modifiers even in a Simple Sentence (one subject, one verb) like yours, you have to question whether the phrase is essential (restrictive, taking no comma(s)) or nonessential (nonrestrictive, set off from the rest of the sentence with one or more commas).

Let's diagram, to find out a few things: (subject = italics; verb = bold)

For investigating the effect | of structural uncertainties |on the damage| fragility curves are generated separately | considering deterministic and probabilistic parameters |for the structure.

You got the first comma right, now, that last phrase; it's a present participle phrase or is it? No. It's prepositional phrase. These days they are calling "considering" a preposition [preposition = considering; object of preposition = parameters], which means your last phrase is an adjective in need of a noun or pronoun to modify OR an adverb in need of an adjective, verb, or adverb to modify. Tricky. It could qualify as a "misplaced modifier" even a "dangling modifier."

Judging from the context, and without any experience in the field (which is good, no bias), I have ascertained that the phrase is an adverb phrase modifying either the verb phrase (taken as a single verb) "are generated" or the adverb next to it "separately." If correct, leave the comma; it's close enough, and nonessential--simply put: added information that without the phrase the meaning of the sentence will NOT change:

For investigating the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage, fragility curves are generated separately.

CORRECT:

For investigating the effect of structural uncertainties on the damage, fragility curves are generated separately, considering deterministic and probabilistic parameters for the structure.


Fragility curves for controlled structure, which is controlled by semi-active FLC, and uncontrolled structure, considering deterministic parameters, are shown in Fig. 9.

You're right, it's a Complex Sentence. Let's check out the commas...

Fragility curves | for controlled structure | which is controlled by semi-active FLC and uncontrolled structure | considering deterministic parameters | are shown in Fig. 9

Main clause: Fragility curves for controlled structure are shown in Fig. 9

Dependent clause: which is controlled by semi-active FLC and uncontrolled structure considering deterministic parameters

Normally "which" denotes a nonessential clause, so...let's see if he main can stand on its own (looks up at a bit). Yep. Your clause is added info, which of course you want in the sentence, giving us our first set of commas:

Fragility curves for controlled structure, which is controlled by semi-active FLC, and uncontrolled structure, considering deterministic parameters, are shown in Fig. 9.

For the adverb prepositional phrase, this time it's the verb are and again, the sentence can survive without losing meaning...

Fragility curves for controlled structure, which is controlled by semi-active FLC and uncontrolled structure, are shown in Fig. 9.

CORRECT:

Fragility curves for controlled structure, which is controlled by semi-active FLC, and uncontrolled structure, considering deterministic parameters, are shown in Fig. 9.

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