I was wondering whether these sentences are grammatically correct and whether they mean the same thing.

  1. There are no workers who are using these tools right now.
  2. There are no workers using these tools right now.
  3. There are no workers who use these tools.

Can present participle be used like this (in the second sentence)? And if so, then is there any distinction (if we omit "right now") whether the second sentence means the same as the first or the third one?

Edit: Removed commas before "who" in sentences 1 and 3 as they were incorrect, but not my main point of interest.

  • 2
    Why are you putting a comma after workers in 1 and 3? Oct 25, 2021 at 7:38
  • I agree with the last comment: the commas in 1. and 3. are wrong and should be dropped.
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2021 at 7:40
  • Ok, they seemed right to me. Is there any rule whether comma before "who" should be dropped or not? Oct 25, 2021 at 7:41
  • 2
    Yes; put simply, the relative who clauses are clearly defining ones, and hence they should not be set off by punctuation but integrated into the noun phrase.
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2021 at 7:46
  • Thanks for explanation! I'll try to abide to that rule Oct 25, 2021 at 7:48

1 Answer 1


Ignoring sentences (1) and (3), which are incorrect:

  • (2) There are no workers using these tools right now.

This implies (at least in most contexts) that there are workers in the universal set under consideration (eg on-site; in the coal industry worldwide ...) but either that none of them

  • (i) are using the said tools at this precise moment, perhaps broadened to say 'this morning' (logically, in a local setting), or
  • (ii) are using the said tools globally, for the time being.


  • (2') There are no workers who are using these tools right now.

This would very often, perhaps almost always have the global reading, (ii) above.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. I think that my understanding of this subject is a little bit clearer. Oct 25, 2021 at 11:18

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