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When listing a number of things in a sentence, I know the word form of the items must be consistent like verb1, verb2, verb3 and so on. My question is, can gerund phrases and nouns can be in a list? Is a gerund phrase considered a noun? For example, "This surgical device is used for cutting parts, incision, insertion, and fixing components." It sounds wrong to me. Thank you.

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Yes, gerunds can be used in lists. To do so, you have to supply a verb to go with nouns.

Please use the following methods for cleaning the houses:

1 - vacuuming the indoor steps 2 - washing the kitchen floors 3 - spraying decks with hoses (if a hose is available.

So, then, in your example, you'd get:

This surgical device is used for: add a verb to each

- cutting parts

- making incisions

- inserting parts

- and fixing components.

That can also be written:

This surgical device is used for cutting and inserting parts, making incisions and fixing components.

[I said inserting parts as an example. It is probably not medically accurate.]

One just has to find a verb to accompany the noun to create parallelism.

  • Okay, thank you. But what I meant was, can gerunds and (strict) nouns together be in a list? Like in "The device can be used for incision, insertion, and fixing components." Or do all the items have to be either in gerund form or in noun form like in your answer, – Daniel S Jul 29 '18 at 13:52
  • I advise using one or other, not mixing them. incision, insertion and components or my example. Be aware that if you say; can be used for cutting parts, that is very ambiguous: can be used for cutting parts [ can mean to cut parts or parts that cut]. The same is true for "used for fixing components." It is ambiguous. It's best either to list nouns or list actions. My example avoids the ambiguity through providing a verb for each noun. Otherwise, you could use: cutting, incising, inserting and affixing. – Lambie Jul 29 '18 at 16:01
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Ideally, parallelism should be maintained in all aspects of sentence construction.

In your example, there are many different ways of doing this.

Here are some possibilities. I am using exaggerated examples in some cases to make a point, and assume they would not be actually acceptable replacements:

  1. This surgical device is used for cutting, incising, inserting, and fixing components.

  2. This surgical device is used for cutting parts, incising skin, inserting pieces, and fixing components.

  3. This surgical device is used to cut, incise, insert, and fix components.

  4. This surgical device is used to cut parts, incise skin, insert pieces, and fix components.

  5. This surgical device is used for separation, incision, insertion, and correction.

Of particular note is a problem with this construction:

This surgical device is used for cutting parts, incising, inserting, and fixing components.

Even though all verbs use an -ing form, two of the items specify items being acted upon and the other two don't. (What's being incised? What's being inserted?)

This is corrected in 1. by suspending mention of a noun until the end of the sentence; the verb in each list item acts on this thing. In 2., it is corrected by having each list item mention its own noun.

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