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Mar Rojo

Hi, Peter.

Would you mind reading this that was sent to me by someone who believes there is a subjunctive clause in #5?

"The question asks for the sentence that has a subordinate clause at the beginning. Traditional grammar and the linguistic approach differ in their definitions of a subordinate clause. The linguistic approach includes subjectless non-finite clauses such as "to stay alive" and "huddling together"—the subject is "recovered" or derived from the main clause in most cases. Traditional grammar only recognizes finite subordinate clauses such as "because they huddled together"—which contains an overt subject. It refers to non-finite clauses as verb phrases."

Mar Rojo

Apologies, he claims #3 has a subordinate clause at the beginning.

"Under the traditional approach there is no correct answer. Under the linguistic approach, the correct answer is option 3: "Huddling together helps male penguins to stay alive and keep warm". This option begins with the non-finite, subordinate clause "huddling together", a gerund-participial clause."

Peter Harvey

Hi Mar,

Thank you for your comment. Your friend is confusing two aspects of the -ing form, the gerund and the participle.

By huddling together, the penguins are able to keep warm

Is a participle clause and can be expanded for example to

Because they huddle together male penguins keep warm

This is what we find in the Guardian’s first example:

Male penguins keep warm by huddling together.

But the participle clause is not at the beginning of the sentence as the question requires. In

Huddling together helps male penguins to stay alive and keep warm.

huddling is the gerund. This is the part of the verb that operates as a noun and here huddling together is a noun phrase that is the subject of the verb. It is not a clause of any kind.

I assume from your name that you are Spanish. We see this difference in:

Apiñándose, los pingüinos machos logran conservar el calor corporal.
Apiñarse ayuda a los pingüinos machos conservar el calor corporal.

A potential source of confusion in the terminology is that the Spanish gerundio corresponds to the English present participle and Spanish uses the infinitive as a noun while in English we use the -ing form and call it the gerund in this case. Both the participle and gerund have the -ing form. Usually it is appropriate to distinguish these two ways of using the -ing form but we use that name because there are a few cases that are not clear.

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