In my presentation I would like to have the following title:

Au-dessus des nuages – en regardant vers l'avenir d'aujourd'hui et celui d'autrefois – tout ce que vous "devez" savoir

My question is two-fold:

  1. do I have to include "en" or do I have to omit it?

  2. is it possible to omit "vers", thereby changing the meaning, but still retaining a grammatically valid sentence?

  1. It would be ungrammatical to remove en from that sentence. En + participe présent is a construction to refer to the circumstance in which one performs the action. Just the participe présent by itself doesn't work.

  2. Yes, you can remove vers. The meaning changes from "looking towards the future" to "looking at the future" but it's still grammatical.

EDIT: You could remove the en and still have a grammatical sentence where the verb following it qualifies nuages, but without a dash between nuages and the verb. For example

Au-dessus des nuages obscurcissant le ciel — en regardant vers l'avenir — tout ce que vous devez savoir Above the clouds that darken the sky — looking towards the future — everything that you must know

  • I'm French, I don't get why removing "en" would be a mistake. "Marchant vers la forêt, je repensais à toutes ces choses qu'elle m'avait dites". OK, I read somewhere that removing "en" when it's a "gérondif" is a mistake since the XVIIIth century, but still, it's VERY common in literature.
    – Destal
    Jun 14 '16 at 7:48
  • And on the site of the Académie Française, I found this: academie-francaise.fr/la-peur-va-grandissante . So, to me, you can, and it's even more beautiful, omit the "en".
    – Destal
    Jun 14 '16 at 7:57
  • You can remove the "en" if you're qualifying nuages but then you'd also need to remove the dash, e.g. au-dessus des nuages obscurcissant le ciel. I'll clarify this in the reply.
    – qoba
    Jun 14 '16 at 12:56
  • 1
    That's not what I meant. If you write: "Je vole au-dessus des nuages obscurcissant le ciel", "obscurcissant" is a participe présent referring to "nuages": "I'm flying above the clouds that darken the sky". But if you write: "Je vole au-dessus des nuages - obscurcissant le ciel", it's a gérondif without "en", and "obscurcissant" refers to "Je" : "I'm flying above the clouds - darkening the sky" (I am darkening the sky).
    – Destal
    Jun 14 '16 at 13:33

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