as we wait

ordinarydaniel

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

I encountered a problem while writing a religious essay:
"If we are faithful to the name of the Lord Jesus and the way of the Lord and are alert as we wait, will the Lord give us revelations when He comes?"

How do you understand the first part of the sentence?
1. "as we wait" modifies "(we) are alert" alone
2. "as we wait" modifies the whole underlined part

In fact, my intended meaning is the first option, but I'm not sure if people will understand it like the 2nd option. What do you think?
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is very difficult to unambiguously parse a list of things in ordinary English. Punctuation helps, but often even this doesn't make things entirely clear. It is particularly difficult when you have two or more "and"s or "or"s.

    The best solution is to avoid long lists, unless you are writing something like a set of instructions where you can modify the page layout, but doing this is inappropriate in an essay.

    In your case, you can improve matters by adding a comma before the second "and". The repeated verb shows that "are alert" is separate from what comes before, and adding a comma then puts the whole phrase including "as we wait" into a sort of parenthesis. Only a sort of parenthesis, since the Oxford comma before the "and" isn't usually regarded as a parenthesis marker, but it is enough to make clear that "as we wait" applies only to "are alert".
     

    ordinarydaniel

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is very difficult to unambiguously parse a list of things in ordinary English. Punctuation helps, but often even this doesn't make things entirely clear. It is particularly difficult when you have two or more "and"s or "or"s.

    The best solution is to avoid long lists, unless you are writing something like a set of instructions where you can modify the page layout, but doing this is inappropriate in an essay.

    In your case, you can improve matters by adding a comma before the second "and". The repeated verb shows that "are alert" is separate from what comes before, and adding a comma then puts the whole phrase including "as we wait" into a sort of parenthesis. Only a sort of parenthesis, since the Oxford comma before the "and" isn't usually regarded as a parenthesis marker, but it is enough to make clear that "as we wait" applies only to "are alert".
    Thank you! :thumbsup:
     
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