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Here is a sentence from the description of a battle game.

In the game, you have the option to improve your tracks, balancing armour, speed, and your cannon.

In the sentence, I am not sure if the word "balancing" is a verb or noun here. I am confused by the word "improve." It is not clear whether the player has the option to improve all the four things or simply "tracks".

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    You've identified a problem with the sentence, not your understanding. – chrylis Mar 26 at 11:29
  • Can you link to the source (if it's online)? More information about the specific game may resolve the ambiguity. "Balancing armour" isn't exactly a known phrase, but it's possible that it's a phrase specific to the game, and acts as a compound noun. – Anthony Grist Mar 26 at 14:30
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I don't think this is a very well written or clear sentence. In the context I would understand it as

You can improve your "tracks"...

Tracks must be a jargon term in the game.

..., which has the effect of balancing three things:...

Balancing is a gerund here, the noun form of a verb.

... armour, speed and cannon.

I suppose in the game stronger armour means less speed or a weaker cannon. But better "tracks" means that you can carry more armour and a bigger cannon without slowing down.

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    Would it be clearer if there was by: the option to improve your tracks by balancing armour, speed, and cannon? – Andrew Tobilko Mar 26 at 11:06
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    @AndrewTobilko: Your versions suggests that balancing leads to track improvement, but this answer seems to infer that track improvement leads to balancing. If the intended meaning is the latter, then it should be "to": "improve your tracks to balance your armor, speed, and cannon" – Flater Mar 26 at 11:56
  • @Flater the "by" interpretation is the one that makes sense. – hobbs Mar 26 at 14:34
  • @hobbs: If balancing leads to track improvement, I agree. – Flater Mar 26 at 14:41
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It makes sense to improve:

  • tracks;
  • speed;
  • cannon.

It does not make much sense to improve:

  • balancing armor.

Actually, what is that, a "balancing armor"?

But it can make sense if you use an additional comma: "improve ... balancing, armor ...", because you can apply improve to:

  • balancing;
  • armor.

I do not know what "balancing" would mean in the game, but I hope it makes sense.


Another way to make a sense out of this question is to use "by":

In the game, you have the option to improve your tracks, by balancing armour, speed, and your cannon.

with the meaning: You can improve your tracks according to the way you find a balance between armor, speed and cannon.

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    "balancing armour" doesn't make sense, but "balancing armour, speed, and your cannon" does: you are balancing three things (armour, speed and cannon). I'm not saying the phrasing isn't flawed, but I think you're looking at it too narrowly by only focusing on "balancing armour". – Flater Mar 26 at 11:58
  • Yes, I am aware of this meaning, after reading the other answer. Thank you, though, for pointing it out. – virolino Mar 26 at 12:01

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