I am wondering whether a barking dog means the same as a dog which is barking.

Here is the saying a barking dog does not bite. Does a barking dog herein mean a dog which tends to bark in face of threat or a dog which is barking?

Similarly, could I saw a patient coughing be rephrased as I saw a coughing patient?

Besides, does a waiting car refers to a car that is arranged a priori to pick sb. up or a car that happens to be seen waiting, say for passengers getting in or for a traffic light turning green?

Also, sleeping as an adjective collocates with child, as in this ODE example a sleeping child; could one likewise say a sleeping student/lady/man/etc.?

Thanks in advance!


Both are probably correct, but being pedantic I’d argue they can have slightly different connotations. To focus on one of your examples,

I saw a patient who was coughing

This implies that the patient was coughing when you saw them. You could argue however that this also has an implication of being temporary.

I saw a coughing patient

While this also implies that you saw a patient who was coughing, one could argue that in this context, it becomes a more permanent attribute as if they were known for it. “Oh, don’t worry about him, that’s the coughing patient. That’s normal. “

  • 1
    Quite right. Most people would not make the distinction. But a dog that is known to bark (that annoying barking dog) need not necessarily be barking at the time it's referred to in that way. In the same way, you could describe somebody as a happy, annoying, talkative, quiet, or what have you, person. That just describes their general demeanour or behaviour—it doesn't mean they are always like that. – Jason Bassford Mar 22 at 15:05

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