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Let's say I want to combine the two clauses below into one sentence using the coordinating conjunction 'and'.

  1. She is 48.

  2. She is trying to get pregnant.

Which of the following is the correct /most natural way to do it and why?

  • She is 48 and trying to get pregnant.

  • She is 48 and is trying to get pregnant.

Another example:

  1. John is childish

  2. John hates losing

Which is the correct version?

  • John is childish and hates losing.

or

  • John is childish and he hates losing.

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    Your She is 48 and trying to get pregnant (and several others) come perilously close to being zeugmas for me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 27 '17 at 15:36
  • @FumbleFingers, it might be zeugma if it were funny. – JavaLatte Mar 27 '17 at 17:34
  • @JavaLatte: Okay. Does She is 90 and hoping to have her first child this year do it for you? :) Maybe they're not quite zeugmas, because we can all see a [bio]logical connection between age and the ability to give birth. But what about, say, She is fair-skinned and hoping for a baby? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 27 '17 at 17:38
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Gapping Ellipsis is the elimination of repeated words from coordinate structures. The coordinating structures need not necessarily be of the same type: see Mismatch in syntactic category in this wiki article about Coordination. To put it another way, they can be non-parallel structures.

Omission of the repeated verb when combining your two sentences is therefore OK. Both of the combined versions that you suggested seem natural to me, though I would expect the first version to be more common in speech than in writing. Here is a similar example that shows omission of the verb:

I was tired and trying to care for my son in very menial circumstances. David's Star - Carol Bullard


John is childish and hates losing.
John is childish and he hates losing.

Both of these are natural, and again I would expect the first version to be more common in speech than in writing.

Mismatched coordinate structures can be used to humourous effect (semantic syllepsis).

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You're question is an awesome one. My answer is that both are good for different things. For both examples, the second choice is more correct ("She is 48 and is trying to get pregnant", and "John is childish and he hates losing").

They are more correct because they both repeat the subject, which makes them more concise in difficult contexts. However, in spoken American English (which I'll caveat with the fact that I'm an American although a language teacher) the first example is more natural and would be used in conversation.

So, in formal writing, please re-state the verb/pronoun in examples like these. In informal writing and everyday speech, use your first examples. The only time you would use the second example ("She is 48 and is trying to get pregnant", and "John is childish and he hates losing") is to draw emphasis to either the action (in the woman's case) or the subject (for John).

I hope this clarifies things for you.

-J

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    (1) The first example doesn't repeat the subject (and doing so doesn't make a sentence any more or less correct - though it may be clearer in some cases). (2) Please be careful about the difference between "your" and "you're", especially on a site for language learners :-) – psmears Mar 27 '17 at 21:37

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