comma usage

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,

One sentence from ACT (I was required to revise the underlined part if there was an error)

"They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, of leaf blowers and loud car sound systems."

If I was writing the sentence, I would have written it as "They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, leaf blowers and loud car sound systems. "

Is my sentence correct? If so, which one is more acceptable?

I just don't get why "and" is used to combine snowmobiles with all-terrain vehicles, and leaf blowers with car sound systems, then join the two phrases with a comma.

Could anyone help me?

Gil
 
  • SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    You should drop the of because of the principle of parallelism. You should either use it everywhere or only before the first instance of a word:

    They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, leaf blowers and loud car sound systems.

    or

    They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles, of all-terrain vehicles, of leaf blowers, and of loud car sound systems.

    The former is prefered for obvious reasons of brevity.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    You should drop the of because of the principle of parallelism. You should either use it everywhere or only before the first instance of a word:

    They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, leaf blowers and loud car sound systems.

    or

    They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles, of all-terrain vehicles, of leaf blowers, and of loud car sound systems.

    The former is prefered for obvious reasons of brevity.
    They say the original sentence is correct. I just don't get it.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In the original, it appears that the writer is grouping snowmobiles with all-terrain vehicles, and leaf-blowers with loud car sound systems.
    If that is the intention, then the single comma after 'vehicles' is fine, as is the repeated 'of'.
    "They are also targeting the noise (of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles), (of leaf blowers and loud car sound systems)."
     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I don't agree with that at all. The only way I could see it work is if of was replaced with and of:

    They are also targeting the noise of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, and of leaf blowers and loud car sound systems.

    [cross-posted w/ panjandrum]
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    In the original, it appears that the writer is grouping snowmobiles with all-terrain vehicles, and leaf-blowers with loud car sound systems.
    If that is the intention, then the single comma after 'vehicles' is fine, as is the repeated 'of'.
    "They are also targeting the noise (of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles), (of leaf blowers and loud car sound systems)."
    I can accept the grouping snowmobiles with all-terrain vehicle. (they are both for communication). But what is the inherent link between leaf blowers and car sound systems?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Who cares what the link is? Why should there be one? The writer wanted to split his long list into two equal parts and he did it perfectly well. There's nothing wrong with the original sentence at all.

    The impact of well-written English is also its rhythm and assonance, you know. It has often very little to do with logic.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Who cares what the link is? Why should there be one? The writer wanted to split his long list into two equal parts and he did it perfectly well. There's nothing wrong with the original sentence at all.

    The impact of well-written English is also its rhythm and assonance, you know. It has often very little to do with logic.
    I can make peace with that. Can I say, I have a brother who works in the States, a sister who studies in the UK?
    I don't know whether it is correct. I usually say, I have a brother who works in the States and a sister who studies in the UK.
    Do the sentences make no difference?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    You can say that, yes. But note that the original sentence had a list of four components, and the writer divided them to make the list more interesting. With only two components there is no need, and you would be unlikely to do it.
     
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