In the light of this statement, teachers live by selling knowledge, philosophers by selling wisdom, and priests by selling spiritual comfort.

In this parallel structure, can I rewrite it into

... teachers live by selling knowledge, philosophers wisdom, and priests spiritual comfort.

If it is ok, could you tell me the general rule for such omission?

  • Yes, it is OK in my opinion. I would say as long as the context makes it unambiguous, it would be OK to make such structures!!! I am not a native speaker of English though.
    – Cardinal
    Dec 22, 2020 at 14:07
  • 2
    I find it a bit awkward so I would avoid it in that particular example.
    – mdewey
    Dec 22, 2020 at 16:12
  • 2
    This sentence is crying out for an Oxford comma Dec 24, 2020 at 4:34
  • @Ben Jackson Thanks, I've added the comma. Jan 13, 2021 at 1:28
  • correction: in light of, no the.
    – Lambie
    Apr 1, 2021 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


The short version is correct, but taut. It takes a little while to parse. I can imagine a context where you might want the reader to pause to think about it.

The long version flows smoothly.

There is no general rule to apply when choosing between them. Which is better depends on how you want your reader to respond.

(I think @BenJackson is right about the comma.)

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