English as a Second Language/Thereby & Thus

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QUESTION: Hello:

Hello:

I have read that it is not advisable to end a sentence with the words "thereby" or "thus" followed by a present participle because these phrases will most likely result in a dangling participle.  Is it possible to use "thereby" and "thus" followed by a present participle and the phrase not dangle?

Is this example correct?  The rain caused local flooding, thereby causing the local rivers to overflow.

I thank you for your reply.

ANSWER: Hello Kenneth,

here are some more examples using thus/thereby that look as if they're "upside down" so to say:

I opted for a first class seat, thereby making my flight experience more enjoyable.
My mom decided to stop by my place, thus surprising me.

Both phrases should be rephrased because it seems like the main idea is actually in the subordinate phrase and it seems to dangle. When rephrased they make a lot more sense:

I made my flight experience more enjoyable by opting for a first class seat.
My mom surprised me when she decided to stop by my place.

As far as the example you have asked about:

The rain caused local flooding, thereby causing the local rivers to overflow.

I would say the sentence doesn't exactly makes sense. If you look at your sentence it sounds like this: The rain caused flooding, thereby causing the local rivers to flood the area. In my opinion you're restating the same thing using slightly different words, flooding and overflow are synonyms here.

Unfortunately I can't provide you with an example of a sentence where thus/thereby are not followed by a dangling participle, so the rule you have quoted " it is not advisable to end a sentence with the words "thereby" or "thus" followed by a present participle because these phrases will most likely result in a dangling participle" is a valid one.

I hope this helps.

Looking forward to more of your questions.

Best,

Amy



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Amy:

I want to thank you for your reply.

In my example, I started with the following:  

The rain caused local flooding and caused the local rivers to overflow.

Since "rain" is the subject of the sentence and its compound predicate is ...caused local ... and ...caused the local..., I thought that using ...thereby causing local rivers to overflow, would not dangle because the participle's subject is "rain".  Apparently this logic does not provide a correct example in this sentence.

Here is another example:

The author wrote many successful books and relished in his accomplishments.

The author wrote many successful books, thus relishing in his accomplishments.

Does "...,thus relishing in his accomplishments" dangle?

I thank you for your follow-up reply.

Answer
Hello again Kenneth,

Your "original" sentence:
The rain caused local flooding and the local rivers to overflow. is OK with me, but when you rephrase it to read: "The rain caused local flooding thereby causing the local rivers to overflow"  it somehow doesn't sound the same. Anyway, in my opinion you're not dealing with a dangling participle here.

Moving on to the other example:

The author wrote many successful books, thus relishing in his accomplishments.

Or, here's another one:

They haven't studied for the test, thus failing miserably.

I wouldn't say those are dangling participles in any of the examples above, but both sentences can be rephrased to "sound better" so to say:

The author relished in his accomplishments as/because he wrote many successful books.

They failed miserably because they haven't studied for the test.

In both sentences there is a cause and effect type of situation and it depends on what you see as being the main idea/main sentence vs the subordinate.

My personal take on this - if in doubt, try to avoid these types of constructions.

I hope this helps.

Best,

Amy  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

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