# Is there any preference in the use of participial clause versus a relative clause? [duplicate]

For example,

A. I defined the density as the number of persons populating the region.
B. I defined the density as the number of persons that populate the region.

Also consider the following.

C. After I found the lock key, I packed all the furniture in a huge suitcase, belonging to my sister.
D. After I found the lock key, I packed all the furniture in a huge suitcase, which belongs to my sister.

Are there any general rules or guidelines?

• In passing, I'd just point out that (1) avoids the arguably jarring correspondence of 'the number of persons' with 'that populate' in (2). And in (3) the comma is at best unusual; the normal omission conflates the restrictive and nonrestrictive senses (which here seems inconsequential). (4) makes a bigger deal of 'my sister's' ownership. // This has been said here before, but temporal information can be lost with ing-forms. 'Dogs playing in the snow' means either 'dogs which are playing in the snow' or 'dogs which were / will be playing in the snow'. Dec 31 '20 at 17:18
• A. and B. are fine and are semantically similar -- just two different types of clause doing the same job of modifying "persons". C. and D. are problematic, since it's ambiguous as to the intended antecedent. It appears that the relative clauses have "a huge suitcase" as antecedent, whereas the intended antecedent is probably "all the furniture". Dec 31 '20 at 17:31
• That question is different to me, I am speaking about gerund Dec 31 '20 at 17:42
• I actually intended that my sister owns the suitcase Dec 31 '20 at 17:43
• Then the relative clauses are of the defining kind, and they should not be set apart with commas. On that basis, C. and D. are semantically similar. There's little to choose between the two kinds of subordinate clauses. Dec 31 '20 at 18:42

A. I defined the density as the number of persons populating the region. B. I defined the density as the number of persons that populate the region.

There are two points to be made:

1. There is a nuanced difference between the continuous form of the verb and the simple form of the verb (populating; populate.) The continuous form describes an action that, at the time referred to, has not yet finished: the process/action of the verb is continuing. The simple form describes a complete action. This distinction is at its clearest in punctual verbs, but exists in durative verbs too.

2. In A, "populating the region" is called a reduced relative clause - in full (in this example), it is "who/that are populating the region."

• I'd say that there's no real semantic difference between A. and B. The difference lies in the subordinate clause type, A. being a gerund-participial clause, B a relative one. Jan 1 at 18:41
• @BillJ Could you define "real" in view of my This distinction is at its clearest in punctual verbs, but exists in durative verbs too.? Jan 1 at 19:08

A. I defined the density as the number of persons populating the region.

B. I defined the density as the number of persons that populate the region. or

B. I defined the density as the number of persons that populate the region.

C. After I found the lock key, I packed all the furniture in a huge suitcase, belonging to my sister.

1. "present participle" is basically an adjective which modifies antecedent(noun) like "a boy studying English" but there is a comma and it stopped a modifying function and formed a participial construction(I packed all the furniture in a huge suitcase and the suitcase belongs to my sister. >, belonging to my sister.)
2. "present participle" is used to make "adverbial clause" "adverbial phrase" in order to shorten. For example, Because I am tired, I went to bed early.

Being tired, I went to bed early. (Be sure to check out if subjects agree with each other in both clauses)

D. After I found the lock key, I packed all the furniture in a huge suitcase, which belongs to my sister. ', which' emphasizes where the intended antecedent(either all the furniture or a huge suitcase) belongs to. Both "all the furniture" and "a huge suitcase" are singular so readers have no certain clue here. You know "furniture" is treated as an uncountable noun.