1

They were pleased with their lives and they were sure of their future.

Is it correct to make this sentence look like this

They were pleased with their lives and were sure of their future.

or even

They were pleased with their lives and sure of their future.


What about these examples:

  1. They will leave big cities and they will live in the countryside
  2. They will leave big cities and will live in the countryside
  3. They will leave big cities and live in the countryside

Are they all correct and have the same meaning? Is there any rule?

3

The rule is that the elements of a coordination must be parallel. They have to do the same job in the same way. All of your examples follow this rule:

 

{They were pleased with their lives} and {they were sure of their future}.
{They will leave big cities} and {they will live in the countryside}.

These are coordinate independent clauses. Each clause can stand on its own, and each pair can stand together.

 

They {were pleased with their lives} and {were sure of their future}.
They {will leave big cities} and {will live in the countryside}.

These are coordinate predicates. Each of the predicates works with this subject, so the coordination does as well.

 

They were {pleased with their lives} and {sure of their future}.

These are coordinate predicative modifiers. Although one is a participial phrase and the other is an adjective phrase, they are still parallel enough to work. Each of the modifiers works with the copular verb as a subject complement, so the coordination does as well.

They will {leave big cities} and {live in the countryside}

These are coordinate bare infinitive phrases. Each works as the argument of the verb "will", so the coordination works.

 

Things fail when the intended coordinate elements are not sufficiently parallel:

John {had a cold} and {had to call in sick}.

Two complete predicates that can each work with the given subject. This coordination is good.

* John had {a cold} and {to call in sick}.

This coordination fails. These are two different kinds of arguments, with two different relationships to the verb "had". The first wants to use "had" with its possessive sense. The second wants to use "had" in its obligatory sense. Since these two arguments don't attach to the verb in the same way, the coordination fails to attach correctly.

| improve this answer | |
1

Fundamentally, you have already mentioned the rule - in English you can shorten as much as you like, so long as you still remain intelligible to the other person. That is the catch though - just 'cos you understand something, doesn't mean that anyone else will! Context, as ever, is important - shortening a sentence usually makes it more ambiguous.

An English teacher might argue that anything other than your first/full version is incorrect, but in reality both of your shortened examples are in common use.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    This not correct; we not shorten sentences long as still understandable. Makes sound like idiots. Even though both OP examples fine. – Peter Shor Nov 26 '19 at 13:19
  • @PeterShor Heard teenager recently? – Mike Brockington Nov 26 '19 at 14:16
  • Teenagers definitely text that way, but I don't believe many of them they speak that way. – Peter Shor Nov 26 '19 at 14:51
  • Being able to tell when something will be understandable to the listener and when it won't is precisely why the rules of grammar were invented, which is why grammar is important, and why English teachers teach it. (And an English teacher wouldn't have any problem with any of the OP's examples. They're all grammatically fine.) – Foogod Nov 26 '19 at 23:38
  • Au contraire - the so-called "rules of grammar" were invented to try and formalise the mish-mash that is 'common usage'. – Mike Brockington Nov 28 '19 at 10:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.