Whether to use a plus sign or an open block for list continuations is up to you.

However, since open blocks cannot be nested, it is better to preserve them for those cases where they do not have an alternative.

I'm trying to understand whether X in "X do not have an alternative" can stand for a thing rather than a person who makes a decision. In other words, isn't it better to replace it with

However, since open blocks cannot be nested, it is better to preserve them for those cases where there is no alternative to them.

The sentence is assumed to be used in a technical document, so I want it to be precise.

I'm not sure that the 1st version is precise from the grammatical side. And it seems that the 2nd version is quite ambiguous because of its complicated construction.

  • If I understood it correctly, X in the first sentence represents an object, and not a human/person. "they" refers to the "open blocks". Nov 13, 2020 at 17:49
  • Yes, this is correct.
    – user90726
    Nov 13, 2020 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


The first sentence is quite awkward though grammatical. The referent of "they" is not totally clear because the closest noun is "cases" although the intent is to refer back to open blocks. Moreover, the alternatives are never specifically identified as alternatives. The same problems arise with the proposed revision.

You have two alternatives for list continuations: a plus sign or an open block.

However, because open blocks cannot be nested, it is better practice to use them only when there is no alternative.

Now we avoid the difficulty in determining the referent of the pronoun and make clear what the alternative is with respect to list continuations.

  • Hello, Jeff. Your answer was downvoted, but it wasn't me who downvoted it. I like the answer. Isn't it better to remove "practice"? Seems to be superfluous.
    – user90726
    Nov 13, 2020 at 19:52
  • 1
    Glad you liked it. Thank you. Whether you retain “practice” or not is purely a matter of style. I personally prefer not to have adjectives modify omitted nouns. Further, I like “practice” because it emphasizes that it is not mandatory. But it is your prose, not mine. Nov 13, 2020 at 20:49

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