Sorry, I didn’t see your thread until after I’d posted in this thread: Tense question.
Your first sentence contains one too many commas. It should read thus:
After cutting the vegetables and laying them on the table, the chef’s assistant then started to prepare the meat.
Yes, you could also use the perfect form of the participles in sentence 1 with no change in meaning. However, this would be completely unnecessary, so why bother? :lol:
As I see it, the primary problem with sentence 2 is the use of “laying” rather than “laid” (or “having laid”). The use of the perfect participle places the actions (“cut” and “laid”) further in the past than “started”. Grammatically speaking, since you have used “having cut”, you also need to use the perfect participle “having laid”. The use of “laying” would mean that “lay” and “start” happened simultaneously. However, that is clearly not the intended meaning.
Since the two verb forms (“having cut”, “having laid”) are connected by “and”, it is unnecessary to repeat the word “having”. I also think separating the subject and the verb with so much additional information tends to make this sentence “clunkier” than the first.
I’m not quite sure what Natasha means by “active and passive gerund” – at least not in connection with your two sentences. To me a “passive gerund” or a passive participial phrase would include a form of the verb “be”. Both of these sentences use passive forms:
After being told the news, she fainted.
Having been told that the movie was boring, I decided not to go.
[size=84]“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” ~ Albert Einstein[/size]