Verb Clusters


Verb clusters are made by crossing over the -ing form of the verb in a main clause of BSP-1 or BSP-2.

The man escaped from jail.
The man was escaping from jail.
Escaping from jail, the man chuckled.

The man bribed the jailer.
The man was bribing the jailer.
Bribing the jailer, the man committed a felony.

How to identify verb clusters. To identify verb clusters, look for -ing words. When you find one, figure out if it is part of the kernel BSP. If it is, then it is NOT a verb cluster. See the following examples:
Running is good exercise. (Here "running" is a noun, the subject of the sentence.)

They were spending money like there was no tomorrow. (Here "spending" is part of the verb of the kernel sentence.)

If the -ing verb is not part of the main clause, it is probably a verb cluster. Verb clusters usually have some words attached to the -ing word, but sometimes the -ing word stands alone as a one-word cluster. All of the following are verb clusters:
Spending money like there was no tomorrow, the shoppers snapped up all the bargains by noon.

Flashing a smile, Kara walked away.

Redialing, we finally got through.

Finally, verb clusters can dangle. When they do, they are usually called "dangling participles." To recognize a dangling participle, first find a verb cluster and then uncross it to see if the original sentence makes sense, like this:

Driving through the park, three bears were seen. (A sentence with a verb cluster)

Bring the subject of the main clause forward:
Three bears
Put the verb cluster after the subject and add a helping verb:
Three bears (were) driving through the park.

Does this sentence make sense in the context of the rest of the text? Unless you are reading a fairy tale or watching a cartoon, this sentence probably contains a dangling participle. Fix it by changing the verb cluster to a subordinate clause or by changing the noun of the main clause:

Fix one: When the tour bus went through the park, three bears were seen. (awkward but correct)

Fix two: Driving through the park, we saw three bears. (much better)

Return to Lesson Six.