—though none admitted to eating a human being or considering it as an option [parallel construction]

Passau

Member
English (CaE/AmE)
Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a recent Pew Research survey said they'd eaten at least one household pet or neighbourhood stray to supplement meager government rations, while twelve percent said they knew of incidents of cannibalism in their area—though none admitted to eating a human being or considering it as an option.
I'm uncertain of my grammar following the dash. For parallel construction, should there be another to before considering? Is it better to leave out both to's, as in –though none admitted eating a human being or considering it as an option? Is the as necessary in considering it as an option? I have a feeling there's a more grammatical way to say this.


Passau
 
  • Whizbang

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Regarding the use of no "to"s, one "to", or two "to"s, it really comes down to a personal judgement call as to what makes a given sentence more readable. In general, the more words between the verbs, the more advisable it is to add the second "to".

    I think the "as" is optional, but my ear prefers its presence.

    The only connotative difference I get is that if I knew that some others had engaged in cannibalism, then it would be clear that it was an option, even if it were an option that I wouldn't engage in.

    "Considering it an option" sort of implies that "no reasonable person would engage in such behavior," while "considering it as an option" sort of implies that "while someone might engage in such behavior, I personally wouldn't."
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think the reason this is proving difficult is because you are trying to make it a parallel construction when patently it is not: the ‘it’ appears to refer to a human being, whereas it actually refers to eating a human being.

    In other words, as it is written, the sentence confuses the reader, who wonders, “Has no-one admitted eating a human being, or has no-one admitted considering a human being?” This is not what you mean to say, but it does have the parallel structure : noun, past participle, gerund, object (on each side of the comma).

    I hope I’ve expressed that clearly.

    I would re-write the phrase like this:

    “—though none admitted eating a human being nor admitted considering that option.” (Arguably, the second ‘admitted’ is not necessary.)
     

    RCA86

    Senior Member
    UK
    British English
    I personally think it's clear enough as it is; that both 'to's are optional, and that the as is also optional.
     

    Passau

    Member
    English (CaE/AmE)
    I appreciate the replies, everyone.

    The more I read the original, the worse it sounds to me. Johndot, I like what you wrote better, especially your using nor instead of or and that option instead of the misleading it. I'm not sure I follow you exactly in your critique of my parallelism—or faux-parallelism, it would seem. Does the ambiguity of what it refers to in my version by itself make it non-parallel, or are there other problems? Is the following construction parallel and unambiguous?

    —though none admitted to eating a human being nor to considering that as an option.

    Passau
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, Passau, I much prefer your last suggestion because each half of the sentence has equal grammatical values.

    In the title, ‘it’ is used to refer to a (rather long) object phrase; this is admissible but it makes for an unwieldy and unnecessarily difficult-to-follow construction.

    However in the new version you use the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ which is far more capable of referring to a phrase, in my opinion.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    –though none admitted eating a human being or considering it as an option
    I think the clause is perfectly understandable as is, because I wouldn't normally refer to a human being as 'it', which means that I understood 'it' to refer to 'eating a human being'. If I were to replace 'it' with something else, it would be 'this' rather than 'that' because 'this' would more clearly refer to the nearest preceding phrase. I would find one 'to' the most optional. Thus:

    –though none admitted to eating a human being or considering this as an option

    /Wilma
     

    DASP

    Member
    Español - Ecuador
    I was told that the preposition to is not used before a present participle. "to looking" is incorrect, instead use "to look".

    —though none admitted to eating a human being nor to considering that as an option.
    I prefer this one.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I was told that the preposition to is not used before a present participle. "to looking" is incorrect, instead use "to look".
    ...
    Perhaps the preposition 'to' should not be used before the present participle 'looking'.
    But in this context, 'looking' is a gerund, not a present participle, and 'to looking' is perfectly correct.
    Nor sounds wrong to me in that sentence.
    I agree.
    ... though none admitted to eating a human being or to considering that as an option.
     
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