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the spinning around machine

a) a program that is open source b) an open source program

(b) sounds right because “open source” is in fact a whole adjective. It is neither “open” nor “source”. So the construct in (b) is just like “a blue book”.


a) the machine that is spinning around b) the spinning around machine

Somehow, (b) doesn’t look right for me, because the base adjective is only “spinning”. Is it just my feeling, or is it indeed wrong? If wrong, is there a way to somehow “correct” it?

Thanks a lot.

  • July 7, 2007
  • Posted by agro
  • Filed in Grammar

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Actually, "is spinning" is a verb in the present progressive, so "spinning" isn't an adjective in the relative phrase "that is spinning." The whole clause "that is spinning" is acting as an adjective modifying "machine," just to muddy the waters. I don't think you can reverse the order and have it make sense.

Delia July 7, 2007, 2:28pm

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Oh, yeah, and "around" is an adverb modifying "is spinning," which goes even farther to make your two phrases utterly different kettles of fish.

Delia July 7, 2007, 3:47pm

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Which do you want to say?

The spinning machine - a machine that spins (things around, presumably), or
The machine that is spinning?

Rachel July 9, 2007, 3:25am

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Thanks for the replies so far.

What I wanted to say is "the machine that is spinning". Much like "a dancer that is spinning". "around" is indeed meant to modify "spinning", to give more emphasis to it.

To think about it...

"The running fast horse" (from "The horse that is running fast") obviously wrong. Luckily we can change it to:

"The fast-running horse" (the slow-moving vehicle, etc)
(It sound fine for me. It's correct, right?)

However, these don't sound correct to me:

The around-spinning dancer
An around-jumping frog
(Or is it?!?)

It's a pity then if we can reverse the order in "running fast" while not in "jumping/spinning around"...

Agro July 9, 2007, 6:13am

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I think "running fast" and "spinning around" are different because fast is an adverb and around is a preposition, no? So you can switch participles with their adverbs (even though it might sound clunky) but I guess prepositions have to go after the participle (or verb or that sort of thing). Fast-running, slow-moving, downfalling, updrafting, quickly eating, etc. However, on-jumping, under-sitting, in-swimming...hmm not so much. On the other hand, we have words like "aforesaid" and expressions like "the above mentioned." To take it closer to your examples, maybe we could put those into the present tense: "aforesaying" or "above mentioning" hmm I dont know about that. Thoughts?

AO July 9, 2007, 5:44pm

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AO, I don't think that "around" is a preposition in this case. If it was, what would the object of the preposition be? "Around" is an adverb which modifies "spinning."

mj July 20, 2007, 12:10pm

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How about simply hyphenating the compound modifier:
"the spinning-around machine"?
It's fairly basic grammar and allows you to retain the flavor of the words you want to use while clearing up any confusion about meaning.

amazed July 26, 2007, 7:36am

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I know I'm a gravedigger with this post but I thought I should add that the "around," in my opinion, is an preposition. The OP has incorrectly ended his phrase with an preposition and should simply remove it.

1) "The machine that is spinning."
2) "The spinning machine."

It is quite easy to swap the order in this case. If "around" is to be used, it needs an object so one needs to ask:

"Around what is the machine spinning?" and not "What is the machine spinning around?"

brett October 12, 2009, 4:17am

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AO, Brett, "around" can be either an adverb or a preposition. When used in "spinning around", it's an adverb that means "in a circular manner". It does not mean "to encircle something else".

Also, as for the original question, I would suggest that normally, open-source should be hyphenated. It functions as a single adjective.

porsche October 14, 2009, 9:05am

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Yes     No