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Could someone please explain the grammar structure of the lyrics below?

Sitting here wide awake

Thinking about when I last saw you

Since the beginning of these lyrics starts with an "ING" form, it has me curious if the reason the "ING" needs to be put after "Sit" and "Think" is because we would like to use it as a noun? Or is it a contraction of:

"I was sitting here wide awake"

"I was thinking about when I last saw you"?

Would it be correct if I say:

" Sit here wide awake "

" Think about when I last saw you"?

Took these lyrics from the song "Standing in the dark" by the way.

  • Does this answer your question? When is it acceptable to start a sentence with an "-ing" word? – Decapitated Soul Apr 20 '20 at 7:03
  • Not quite, thank you though. – Pichayut Apr 20 '20 at 7:23
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    Yes, it is a contraction of I was sitting, While I am sitting or whatever fits the rest of the sentence. – Kate Bunting Apr 20 '20 at 8:09
  • @user84614 is asking to add this: Yes. Such a clause describes how you are when something happens. It gives information about the setting. "Being a nice person, I offered him a seat." "Hoping they wouldn't see me, I ran to the back of the class." "Running through the alley, I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye." – Yosef Baskin Apr 20 '20 at 18:59
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The title of your post suggests that you'd like to know when it's acceptable to start a sentence with an "-ing" word more generally, and not just in cases like the one you cite.

"Sitting" and "thinking" might be contractions, as @Kate Bunting says. This is a song, so these phrases might be standing on their own and not be parts of a complete sentence.

But it's also possible that they are part of a longer sentence. For example: "Sitting here wide awake, Thinking about when I last saw you, I see that I can't live without you." I've just looked up the lyrics to "Standing in the Dark" on Google (just go to Google, there's no specific URL), and indeed, that's what we have here.

Here are the first three lines of the song: "Sitting here wide awake/Thinking about when I last saw you/I know you're not far away".

This is, I believe, a case of a present participial phrase acting as an adverb. (See this reference: https://medium.com/@engtuto1/can-gerunds-be-also-used-as-adjectives-89e5698411f3.) The two present participles, "sitting" and "thinking" directly affect the main verb, "know". The actions they describe cause the singer/narrator to "know" something.

You asked if "Sit" and "Think" would be correct. Generally, they probably would not, unless the intent was to give a command or a suggestion.

But the song's next line actually starts with a verb in the simple present tense! "Close my eyes and I still see you/Lying here next to me". Here, this is indeed a contraction of "I close my eyes". It works because the proximity of the word "I" to the phrase "close my eyes" makes it clear that the word "Close" is not a command.

Going back to the title of your post, there are certainly other cases where it's correct to start a sentence with an "-ing" word. Probably the most common is when the "ing" word is a gerund, a verb that becomes a noun when "-ing" is added.

An example would be, "Sitting is something I enjoy doing."

Does this answer your questions?

  • Thank you very much Isabel for your clarification, it helps me a lot. – Pichayut Apr 21 '20 at 3:03
  • Sorry to bring this up. Could you please also consider the following contexts below? - Asking a good question. - Finding the Right Work-Life Balance - Remembering Mike Tyson's Apology to Evander Holyfield - Testing Mattresses with Warren Buffett I am not really sure if these are the cases of using gerund as a noun? or those phrases are not parts of a complete sentence as you mentioned earlier? However, those given examples are general topics on internet and the title of videos on youtube. So, they do not have the rest sentences, that is why I am a bit confused. – Pichayut May 23 '20 at 2:08
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    Since these are titles, these words look pretty much like nouns to me. – Isabel Archer May 23 '20 at 2:22

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