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Let's assume sentence below (which is From "The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS").

Ants simply sense changes in their environment, as for example when the mound's wall has been damaged, altering the circulation of air.

By syntactic analysis of the sentence above we realize that the sentence is complete by reaching the word 'environment' therefore comma indicates an appositive. after the second comma we have an ING form of the verb which means a reduction transformation is occurred. as far as I know in syntactical analysis if an ING form of the verb appeared after punctuations reduction has occurred and it should be reconstructed using (While + NP + To be) so that NP is reconstructed from the independent clause.

In other words, by reconstructing the sentence we have:

Ants simply sense changes in their environment, as for example when the mound's wall has been damaged, while ants are altering the circulation of air.

But it doesn't make sense. Meanwhile, appositive with comma construction cannot contains a full sentence. therefore, we cannot reconstruct the last sentence from the appositive.

what is the correct reconstruction of this sentence?

I would be so much appreciate that if some body explain that.

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    It’s passive. The agent doing the damaging and thus the altering is not named.
    – Jim
    Mar 8 at 15:35
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    The 'rules' surrounding punctuation of parentheticals etc are far from rigorous, in spite of what textbooks etc may claim. I'd interpret << Ants simply sense changes in their environment, as for example when the mound's wall has been damaged, altering the circulation of air. >> to default to << Ants simply sense changes in their environment, as happens for example when the circulation of the air is altered as a result of damage happening to the mound's wall. >> Mar 8 at 15:54
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    There is no apposition in your original sentence. This is your structure: He insisted there was apposition, arguing about it over several posts.
    – Lambie
    Mar 8 at 16:18
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    Dear Lambie I also have the paper book. the sentence in the book was exactly the same as the one which was on that post. I can send you another link to official guide with the exact same punctuations. @Lambie
    – Mahdi
    Mar 8 at 16:54
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    You are incorrectly using the term appositive. What you have after environment is a nonessential (nonrestrictive) element that can be left off without harming the sentence. Mar 9 at 18:50

1 Answer 1

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Ants simply sense changes in their environment, as for example when the mound's wall has been damaged, altering the circulation of air.

  1. Ants simply sense changes in their environment = main clause

  2. as for example when the mound's wall has been damaged = relative clause introduced by as when

  3. altering the circulation of aid = verb phrase used instead of tensed verb.

For example: The battle continued for several hours, altering the course of the war.
Compared to: The battle continued for several hours and altered the course of the war.

ING can feel "more emphatic" or more active than using a tensed verb.

I have used a simple explanation and not the long-winded ones associated with more academic interpretations.

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  • thank you so much for your detailed answer. But can we use comma as a conjunction instead of and in a written context especially an IELTS article which all the punctuations should be correct? please accept my apology in asking too many questions but this would be a great help to those who trying to learn some grammars deeply. especially punctuations.
    – Mahdi
    Mar 8 at 19:21
  • Commas are a matter of choice, usually. There are several ways to place them here. I have now put back your original comma in the sentence. To answer your question: a comma cannot "replace" a conjunction.
    – Lambie
    Mar 9 at 14:34
  • Thanks a lot for your explanation and I marked your answer as a correct answer. However I couldn't understand what just happened. Because In your answer you pointed to an example which comma is replaced with an "and" conjunction while in your previous comment you mentioned we cannot replace comma with a conjunction. Also in your analysis of sentence how can I understand who is the subject of the verb phrase (which you mentioned used as a tensed verb [last part]) actually I mean how can we specify the subject of that clause without semantic interpretation.
    – Mahdi
    Mar 10 at 20:35
  • It's not a "replacement"; it's a rewrite. altering the circulation of aid=a verb phrase; and altered the etc.=a tensed verb.
    – Lambie
    Mar 10 at 20:38

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