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Why did the writer use being that of instead of is?

four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world, the most prominent share being that of food.

Also, why didn't the writer write it like this, instead?

four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world, the most prominent share is food.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Sep 14 '16 at 1:15
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As John said in his comment, a big part of this is the difference between independent and dependent clauses and how they read, but I think there's a little more to it than that.

Independent clause

In the second example you use with is, the part after the comma is an independent clause. Independent clauses often read separately from the rest of the sentence. This is what the second example could be turned into without changing the meaning:

Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world. The most prominent share is food.

Here the comma is replaced by a period creating two separate sentences. It reads pretty much the same as it does with the comma because complete sentences are naturally independent objects. They don't merge with each other unless you really manipulate them.

Dependent clause

In the first example you use with being that of, the part after the comma is a dependent clause. Dependent clauses, of course, depend on other clauses for completion. This naturally makes dependent clauses flow into other clauses when read.

Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world, the most prominent share being that of food.

Here the dependent clause is unmistakably a part of the independent clause at the beginning — there is no question that the two clauses are concerning the same subject.


This basically comes down to a stylistic choice. The writer must have wanted the two clauses to flow together very smoothly. Both options are grammatically correct in every way though.

  • "In the first example you use with being that of, the part after the comma is a dependent clause." OK. So a dependent clause has a subject and verb. What's the subject? and Where's the verb? See my comment to John Lawler. Even a dependent clause has a subject and verb, and "being" is not a verb; it's a participle of the main verb be. Learn what a dependent clause is: k12reader.com/term/clause-overview || examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-dependent-clauses.html You and Lawler are really steering the OP in the wrong direction. – Arch Denton Sep 13 '16 at 20:30
  • And if you want it straight, let's diagram: "the | most | prominent | share | being | that | of food" = article | adverb modifying prominent | adjective modifying share | noun | past participle | pronoun = share | adjecctive prepositona phrase modifying "that" to describe that as being food. "being that of food" all together is a past participle phrase acting as an adjective and modifying "share" to answer what an adjective would ask, "What kind?" What kind of share? That of food. The entire expression is if anything, a noun phrase. It is certainly not a clause. – Arch Denton Sep 13 '16 at 20:36
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The first "example" is grammatically correct, but the second is not, at least according to Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, Macmillan, 1979. Chapter 1, Rule 5, page 5-7. In brief:

Do not join independent clauses by a comma.

If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

It is, of course, equally correct to write [such a compound sentence] as two sentences, replacing the semicolon with a period.

So, there are (at least) three possible correct ways to write the second "example":

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world, and the most prominent share is food. [inserted conjunction and after comma]

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world; the most prominent share is food. [replaced comma by semicolon]

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world. The most prominent share is food. [replaced comma by period]

I would also quibble with "the most prominent share is food". "Share (of spending)" does not equate to "food". What is really meant by this is that "[among the four items,] food is responsible for the largest share (of spending)". The first "example" avoided this problem by writing "the most prominent share being that of food". In any event, if we are going to stick with two independent clauses in the second "example", we have the following options:

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world, and food is responsible for the most prominent share.

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world; food is responsible for the most prominent share.

  • Four items are responsible for three-fifths of the overall spending around the world. Food is responsible for the most prominent share.

Given that the first "example" is more economical that these (and has other advantages), I would use it.

I could still quibble with the last three bulleted sentences (we could do better), but I won't.

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