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I'm reading a book "A history of religion in 5 1/2 objects" these days, and one sentence is quite tricky for me.

Our bodies are a matrix of connecting points that, when used appropriately, allow us to relate to and draw breath, meaning, and inspiration from the environment around (Plate, S. Brent. A History of Religion in 5½ Objects (p. 5). Beacon Press)

It seems like people are allowed to relate and draw breath. But, I don't get why the objects meaning, inspiration, and environment are placed behind of breath. These could have been written right after "relate to".

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  • It is an oddly constructed sentence. Presumably the author is saying that we relate to the environment and draw (breath, meaning and inspiration) from it, but I don't understand what s/he means. Dec 28 '20 at 17:12
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It's possible to relate to and draw ALL of the following things: breath, meaning, and inspiration.

If two verbs can apply to a complement, combining them with and is normal.

I washed and dried the clothes = I washed the clothes and I dried the clothes

It's possible to stick separate prepositions after one, some, or all verbs; in order to "position" the complement for one of the verb's in a way that makes sense.

I paid for and threw out the junk = I paid for the junk and I threw out the junk

I walked to and ate at the park = I walked to the park and I ate at the park

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  • Thank you for your answer! Dec 29 '20 at 0:52
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The sentence is rather clumsy, but might perhaps be a bit more understandable if we added some dashes.

Our bodies are a matrix of connecting points that, when used appropriately, allow us to relate to - and draw breath, meaning, and inspiration from - the environment around us.

So now we can understand it as two sets of verbs applying to the same object: the environment. Rephrasing again:

... connecting points that [...] allow us to relate to the environment around us and draw breath, meaning and inspiration from it.

(I still don't think there is any actual meaning there, but that might be par for the course in such a book.)

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  • Thank you for your answer! Dec 29 '20 at 0:52

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