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Looking for a way to choose the proper modules for the system, I reviewed all my notes taken in class.

I know looking is present participle, but I feel it is improper to be used in this meaning. The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying I (the subject), but the meaning expressed in this sentence is not like an adjective. I think it is clearer if expressed in adverbial clause of purpose.

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    Welcome to English Language and Usage. Why do you think "looking" is improper in this sentence? – Cascabel Jan 23 '17 at 2:16
  • The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying I (subject), but the meaning expressed in this sentence is not like an adjective. I think it is clearer if expressed in adverbial clause of purpose. I am not a native speaker. I don't know if this is right. Thanks for your help. – jackie Jan 23 '17 at 3:34
  • You should probably edit that into your question;however, that is no guarantee that it will not get closed. I think what sounds not quite right to me is the "such as the notes I took in class". Another suggestion might be to place the phrase closer to its antecedent. ie "Looking for a way........., I reviewed all my..." – Cascabel Jan 23 '17 at 3:54
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    The sentence is okay. The subjectless participial clause is not an adjective and it is not modifying the matrix subject "I" (clauses and VPs don't modify their subjects). It is, as you say, functioning as an adjunct (adverbial), possibly of the depictive kind. – BillJ Jan 23 '17 at 11:47
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    The question of 'what does this participial clause attach to?' is addressed at, for example, "Dangling Participles" – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '17 at 11:24
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As Cascabel suggests, the passage is fine up to and including '… I reviewed all my notes…' but it falls down with the way the notes were taken.

I think it should read '… I reviewed all the notes I had taken in class.'

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Jackie is correct: the entire part of the sentence before the comma is an adverbial phrase (of purpose). A good test for this is whether the phrase is movable. If you move it to the end of the sentence, the meaning of the sentence does not change.

  • It is not an adverbial clause of purpose. It may be an adverbial clause of reason (Since I was looking for a way to choose the proper modules for the system, I reviewed all my notes taken in class.) or as BillJ says, purely depictive ( I was looking for a way to choose the proper modules for the system. I reviewed all my notes taken in class.) – Edwin Ashworth Aug 29 '17 at 11:17

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