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Identify Illogical Simultaneous Actions Caused by Participles

Case for isolating present participles in their various positions

Present participles can create illogical simultaneous actions (two actions taking place at the same time when they CANNOT).


Dell-Dell was now ripping the dough apart into small chunks, using her palms to roll them into pear-shaped nuggets. ❌ 

She cannot be ripping the dough apart (presumably with her fingers) at the same time that she is using her palms to roll the chunks into nuggets. This illogical if not impossible action is implied by the use of the participial phrase, which creates simultaneity.

Dell-Dell was now ripping the dough apart into small chunks, and using her palms to roll them into pear-shaped nuggets. 

In the recast sentence directly above, it is now clear that she does two different actions in sequence, not simultaneously, as marked by the coordinating conjunction.

Syntactic search parameter

Type of search: Regex

MS Word use/instructions:

  1. Select the Advanced Find tool to open the Find and Replace dialog.
  2. Expand the Move>> button to show the Search Options.
  3. Select Use wildcards.
  4. Copy a regex provided below and paste it into the Find what field
  5. Within the regex, replace the entire “ITEM” placeholder including the square brackets with a search item from the Search items list (if or when provided) to establish the search parameter.
  6. Click the Find Next button to move through (select) each highlighted result.
  7. Alternatively, instead of clicking the results individually, you may just want to highlight all of them at once (perhaps to get an idea of the quantity). To do so while you are still in the Find and Replace dialog, click the Reading Highlight button and then select Highlight All.

Search items list:

  • NONE / already defined per regex/wildcards

Front of sentence paragraph-start phrases


Front of sentence intra-paragraph phrases

. <[A-Za-z]@ing>

End of sentence phrases

, [a-z][a-z]@ing>
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh considers himself a story-telling communicator and a grammar enthusiast. His career focus is to write novels and educate others on the effective use of language in literary manuscripts. His objective through this focus is to make the elements and tools of his own success available as an educational component, or through an academic discipline, of his business, McIntoshLinguistics. Garie started out in administration in the fields of healthcare, project management and database development. Now as a storytelling-communicator, his goal and purpose are to write stories with strong, authentic characters that are defined by strong writing and themes and thereby reinforce the power of communication.

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