Consider these two sentences:

  1. His first obligation is always an obligation to his family.
  2. His first obligation is always to his family.

Could sentence 2 be a shorter but more poetic version of sentence 1?


Sentence 2 would be the normal thing to say. The second 'obligation' in sentence 1 is redundant.

  • Assuming "there is a shortcut to the city". Does that mean I could write: "This shortcut is to the city"? – meatie Jul 16 '14 at 13:45
  • Those two sentences have different meanings. The former means "there exists a shortcut to the city." The latter means "this particular shortcut (to which I am referring) leads to the city." – Obfuskater Jul 16 '14 at 13:48
  • For some reason, I feel that for a noun phrase with a preposition modifier following the main noun, the corresponding sentence constructed by inserting "be" between the main noun and prepositional modifier is slightly awkward: "the answer to the question" --> "the answer is to the question". "the assistant to the manager" --> "the assistant is to the manager". – meatie Jul 16 '14 at 14:35
  • It's not just awkward looking--it's incorrect. When you add the "is," you're turning "a noun phrase with a preposition modifier" into a complete sentence that cannot have the same function. – Obfuskater Jul 17 '14 at 1:03
  • It seems that the "an obligation to his family" --> "His obligation is to his family" transformation is okay, but "an assistant to the manager" --> "The assistant is to the manager" transformation is not okay. Why is that? – meatie Jul 17 '14 at 1:30

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