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carefully approaching

Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2021 10:53 pm
by navi
Which are correct:

1) The man carefully approaching us was a police officer.

2) The man carefully approaching was a police officer.

3) The man approaching us was a police officer.

4) The man approaching was a police officer.

Gratefully,
Navi

Re: carefully approaching

Posted: Sat Nov 20, 2021 1:01 am
by Erik_Kowal
They are all correct. The versions in purple imply that the context ("It was us the man was approaching") is understood by the audience.

Re: carefully approaching

Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 8:43 pm
by Phil White
As Erik says, they are all correct, but I feel that sentences 1 and 2 sit slightly uncomfortably. I would prefer the full relative clause in both of those. I think it is because the relative pronoun and verb have been ellipted (who was approaching). It sounds slightly unwieldy to me to then insert something (in this case an adverb) in place of the ellipted words.

Just my take.

Re: carefully approaching

Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:16 pm
by tony h
1) The man carefully approaching us was a police officer.
2) The man carefully approaching was a police officer.

3) The man approaching us was a police officer.
4) The man approaching was a police officer.

Just a couple of observations.
In 1&2 there is no indication that the man is approaching "us". He could be being observed approaching a building or car.

Also, in my view, "carefully approaching" and "approaching carefully" are subtly different. One suggests that the route is of itself deserving of care (potholed, cow pats etc), the other suggests that it is the destination that is the reason for caution (maybe a cave inhabited by Gorgons or a Bandersnatch) This is not an absolute, merely an indication.

Just for fun.

Re: carefully approaching

Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:26 pm
by trolley
And, of course, all four sentences are incorrect if the the man approaching wasn’t really a copper

Re: carefully approaching

Posted: Thu Nov 25, 2021 5:28 am
by Erik_Kowal
tony h wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:16 pmAlso, in my view, "carefully approaching" and "approaching carefully" are subtly different. One suggests that the route is of itself deserving of care (potholed, cow pats etc), the other suggests that it is the destination that is the reason for caution (maybe a cave inhabited by Gorgons or a Bandersnatch) This is not an absolute, merely an indication.
A nice observation with which I concur. But the distinction is, as you say, a subtle one, and would easily be lost on an audience with a less well-tuned linguistic ear than yours.