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In the following paragraph I omitted a "can be" from the second part of the second sentence:

I think a lawbreaker, who has committed a traffic offence, has to face punishment. For instance, they can be fined or their driving license can be suspended temporarily. If they reoffend they can be given a custodial sentence

Is it OK to shorten the sentence like this? If it is correct and clear, what's the name of it in grammar books? Does it have any specific name in grammar?

It is similar to factor in mathematics!

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    In general, yes, you can do this. But in this case it doesn't quite work because the first subject is "they" and the second subject is "their driving license."
    – randomhead
    Jul 6, 2021 at 15:01
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    Yes, it's fine. All you're doing is "deleting" the "predictably repeated" words can be from a parallel construction, which we do all the time in English. The subjects are different (they, their driving license), so they can't be deleted. Jul 6, 2021 at 15:21
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    See this page for advice about parallel constructions and associated "deletion". Jul 6, 2021 at 15:27

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Yes the sentence

I think a lawbreaker, who has committed a traffic offence, has to face punishment. For instance, they can be fined or their driving license suspended temporarily.

is perfect;ly grammatical and natural. Indeed it is more likely for a fluent speaker to use this form than to include the repeated "can be", except perhaps in very formal writing.

While I can sort of see the analogy you are making, no one to my knowledge calls this "factoring a verb" or indeed uses "factor" to discuss this kind of modification of an English sentence. If you call it that, prepare to be misunderstood until you explain.

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  • Really? I parse it to: "They can be fined or they can be their driving license suspended temporarily". What's the conjugated verb for "their driving licence" in this parallel construction?
    – gotube
    Jul 7, 2021 at 8:52
  • @gotube Seeing the shortened sentence, the most likely interpretation would be "They can be fined or have their driving licenses suspended temporarily." which is not different in meaning from the original ""They can be fined or their driving licenses can be suspended temporarily." Jul 7, 2021 at 15:36
  • I don't interpret it that way. To me this is super stumbly. randomhead in the first comment on the question seems to feel the same. Could be a BrEng v NAmEng issue. I'm Canadian.
    – gotube
    Jul 8, 2021 at 6:06
  • Feedback I've gotten from several other people -- mostly ESL teachers and writers -- is that it's bad grammar, so I'm downvoting
    – gotube
    Jul 10, 2021 at 17:42

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