2

Give the task of synthesizing and transforming these two sentences:

  1. John ran after the snatch thief.
  2. John tripped over a stone and fell.

Into just one of this form:

  1. While ____________, ____________.

The provided choices were:

Answer 1:
While running after the snatch thief, John tripped over a stone and fell.

Answer 2:
While John was running after the snatch thief, he tripped over a stone and fell.

My students are often confused as to how to synthesise and transform those two sentences. My explanation is to identify the main clause. So Answer 1 is correct.

Is there a better explanation?

9
  • 8
    Both answers are equally correct; there is no rule of "correctness" here. Either clause can function as the main clause; it depends on what the speaker wants to stress, and where they want to put it in the sentence. Aug 30, 2020 at 16:55
  • 1
    Stylewise, I'd prefer 'as' here. Yes, the pursuit is durative, but the trip is punctive. Aug 30, 2020 at 18:21
  • 1
    //While running after the snatch thief, John tripped over a stone and fell.// Of the two, this is the correct one. This is a single-clause sentence; hence there is no question of main clause or dependent clause. "While running after the snatch thief" is a phrase; not a clause. It can make sense even without 'while', like "Running after the snatch thief, John tripped over a stone and fell."
    – Ram Pillai
    Aug 31, 2020 at 3:34
  • 2
    A great deal of damage is done to the students of a language when such subtle matters of style are forced into a multiple-choice, correct-or-incorrect format.
    – jsw29
    May 27, 2021 at 20:20
  • 2
    In (2) it's unclear who tripped.
    – DjinTonic
    Jan 23, 2022 at 0:42

2 Answers 2

0

From a pure English perspective, they are both correct. However, the first one will typically be considered better writing. This is because “While” is a phrase that modifies John, the noun. The second sentence is poorly constructed because the modifier is wordy relative to what is possible. In other words, it’s a poor use of a modifying clause/needlessly verbose.

1
  • 1
    I disagree. (2) introduces the agent earlier in the narrative. This may be the preferred choice, depending on context. And while (1) is, I agree, more stylish, this could grade into pretentiousness ... and in fact, there may be better ways of writing the contents of (1) and (2). // Yes, this doesn't stick within the constraints of the test question. But ELU usually dismisses local terminologies and artificial (especially sub-optimal) constraints. May 23, 2022 at 9:58
0

Looking up the terms 'synthesise' and 'transform' on various websites, I'm not sure the latter at least has an agreed definition. Some sites seem to license any correct paraphrasing.

Using a contrastive coordinator

  • John ran after the snatch thief, but he tripped over a stone and fell.

is one way to use fewer full stops.

But I'd prefer a more staccato style here. Optimal rephrasing and question constraints are, in my opinion, at odds. This happens all too often in such questions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.