How do I conjoin the two sentences below?

He has interest in the law. He has respect for the law.

Should it be:

  1. He has interest and respect in the law. or,
  2. He has interest and respect for the law.

For me, (2) sounds correct but I could not find any rules governing how to use prepositions when there are conjunctions. Or is the whole thing just wrong?

  • 5
    You might want to consider "he has interest in and respect for the law" as another alternative. – Gary Botnovcan Jun 27 at 22:23
  • He is interested in law and abides by it. – Lambie Aug 7 at 14:40

If you want to conjunct He has interest and respect in the law and he has interest and respect for the law, with and, the way to do it is this:

He has interest and respect in and for the law.

To emphasize the interest and respect iin two things, both will do the job.

He has interest and respect both in and for the law.

Another option:

He has interest and respect [both] in the law and for the law.

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  • He has interest in the law is not accurate English. – Lambie Aug 5 at 14:37

When the prepositions are the same, you can omit the first one:

  • He has love for and respect for his wife.

When they are different, you must leave both in:

  • He has interest in and respect for the law.
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  • He loves and respects his wife. No need for a preposition in a good sentence here. – Lambie Aug 7 at 14:39
  • @Lambie It’s syntactically valid, and it demonstrates the point I was making. Feel free to edit if you have a better example. – StephenS Aug 7 at 15:01
  • It is my opinion that we should not correct badly expressed sentences when much simpler, better and more idiomatic ones can be written. And for me, have interest in x is worthy of the buzzer. – Lambie Aug 7 at 15:02
  • @Lambie I’ve said similar things in formal speech/writing, so it may be a matter of personal taste. Regardless, where there is a clear cut rule that directly answers a question, IMHO it is worth mentioning. – StephenS Aug 7 at 15:11
  • Formal speech/writing? What about just being idiomatic? If I hear "He has interest in law", as a linguist, I immediately label something like that as: non-idiomatic, non-English speaker. And idiomatic can range from highly educated to backwoods unschooled. – Lambie Aug 7 at 16:27

What is idiomatic and what many consider good style differ.

It possibly is idiomatic in informal, spoken American English to use only the preposition required by the final noun.

He has interest and respect for the law

may be acceptable. I believe I have heard that kind of abbreviation in educated American speech, where people can lose track of exactly what is being said, but I also do not believe that I have heard it frequently because people do not try for that kind of concision in speech.

He has interest and respect in the law

is plain weird.

The comment by Gary Botnovcan reflects what I believe to be the only expression acceptable in formal written English: what is joined by the conjunction are noun phrases, each consisting of the noun and the preposition appropriate to that noun.

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  • I really disagree with "He has interest and respect for the law".Who would say that? To be interested in something or conversely, something interests you: the most common forms for this idea. – Lambie Aug 1 at 16:02
  • I hear that sort of thing occasionally. You are the one who stresses the difference between spoken English. and written English. You may perhaps deal only with people whose speech is more careful than those I deal with. As I said, when people are speaking, particularly speaking complex sentences, they do get lost in the syntax. – Jeff Morrow Aug 3 at 20:57
  • Jeff, come on now. He has an interest in economics, in the law, in math. One thing is taped speech, warts and all. Another is spoken language. Which may or may not be exactly the same thing. – Lambie Aug 3 at 21:03
  • @Lambie I have to say that I do not understand what you are saying in your last comment. Speech is speech. And people when speaking do not follow all the nuances of good usage. You seem to be drawing a distinction between how people actually speak ("taped speech") and how people should speak (language as spoken by the linguistically skilled when they are carefully choosing their words). If you disapprove of my answer because I do not make that distinction, but rather distinguish between what people may actually say and what should be written, I think my distinction is more helpful to students. – Jeff Morrow Aug 4 at 22:26
  • Speech is speech, but we are not transcribing actual spoken speech here, are we? Now for me, whether spoken or written (but here I am not referring to taped speech or transcription), the sentences are completely unidiomatic. We simply never say: "to have interest in something": we say: to be interested in something, to have an interest in something. Also, we abide by the law. Many OP's come from countries where the word respect is used in their native languages...I know because I speak three where it would be "respect" the law for abide by the law. – Lambie Aug 5 at 14:33

To be idiomatic in English, this would most likely be expressed like this:

  • The law interests him and he abides by it. OR
  • He is interested in law (or the law) and abides by it.

[a general proposition constructed with parallelism in the sentence.]

have interest is not grammatical in English here.

To be interested in law:

  • He is interested in law and abides by it. [no parallelism]

In English, *respect the law" coupled with a person's interest in it is not great is not necessarily the best word here. Better English is: to abide by the law.

[I changed adhere to abide by, which I could not think of yesterday. Nevertheless, adhere to is better than respect.]

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