a. All those who were overweight and not agile were exempted from participating.

b. All those who were overweight, and not agile, were exempted from participating.

Which should be used if the assumption is that none of those who were overweight were agile?

Which should be used if there were some overweight people who were agile and only those who were overweight and not agile were exempted?

Is (a) ambiguous?

  • 1
    If all those who are overweight are not agile then you don't need to mention being overweight. "All those who were not agile were exempted". Or avoiding the slight double-negative feel "Only agile people were accepted"
    – James K
    Feb 16 at 8:35

In my opinion any difference between the two versions is too small/close to matter in anything other than an English Exam.

Your example (b), including the comma, is better if you don't expect the two groups to overlap entirely, but both versions remain slightly ambiguous, especially if they are spoken out loud, when the comma becomes invisible.

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