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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.


Search parameter type


MS Word instructions:

  1. Select the Advanced Find tool to open the Find and Replace dialog.
  2. If the search parameter type is Text, skip this step. Otherwise, expand the Move>> button to show the Search Options and select Use wildcards.
  3. Copy the customized search parameter provided below and paste it into the Find what field.
  4. Observe any placeholder square brackets with the word item ([ITEM]) within the search parameter and take the necessary steps to modify the parameter according to the Legend list.
  5. Click the Find Next button to move through (select) each highlighted constituent. 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.

Parameter items

  • NONE / already defined per regex/wildcards

Customized search parameter

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>


  • Placeholder square brackets with the word item ([ITEM]) indicates a parameter item with which to overwrite the placeholder, including the square brackets.
  • Placeholder items in parentheses ( ) indicates where linguistic units such as morphemes, phonemes, etc., are optional.
  • Placeholder underscore ( ) indicates a space is obligatory.
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
My works include a trilogy that will be a boxed set of novels that begins with my currently published first novel called “What's in a Name,” a short story collection being completed, and a non-fiction educational project currently in progress. Additionally, I work daily on linguistic and grammatical content via my organization on the Microsoft 365 platform.

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