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Hi, Is the following sentence beginning with "Comparatively
speaking" okay, in terms of the tense sequence of the main-clause
verb "holds" and the participial phrase "having spent only 15
dollars during the past eight days"?
Peter spends 50 dollars every day. Sam spends 30 dollars every
other day. Comparatively speaking, John holds the purse strings
rather tightly, having spent only 15 dollars during the past eight
And what is the relation between the main clause predicate "holds
the purse strings rather tightly" and "having spent only 15 dollars
during the past four days"?
I'd appreciate your help.
1. "holds the purse strings" is to my mind a rather quaint old
fashioned expression. "John is rather more careful with his money"
would suit me better.
2. "Having spent" is like a Latin ablative absolute, a condensed way of
describing previous events in a few words. "Having lost the
battle, the remains of the army struggled towards the coast" In this
case I would use "as he has spent"
That's not actually an absolute construction, since in both cases
(sorry) the participle modifies the subject of the main clause. The
phrase "having spent only 15 dollars during the past four days"
describes John and justifies the statement that he is careful with his
money in comparison with Peter and Sam.
It bothers me a little that their spending habits are given in the
general present tense while the justifying phrase is in the particular
present-perfect. I would prefer a colon and a finite verb to a comma
there: "John holds the purse strings rather tightly: he has spent only
fifteen dollars during the past eight days". I wouldn't say the other
construction is wrong; I'm merely fussing.
So my version would be:- "John is rather more careful with his money
as he has spent only 15 dollars in the last eight days"
That would work too. Everything is in a "present" tense because, in
both uses, the speaker is commenting at about the same time as the
Yes, the ablative absolute is a "two time stage" process. Action one having
already happened, the way is clear for action two to be described.