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When I speak English, I fear I might be unconsciously relying on the syntax of my mother tongue a little too much, which might end up with me creating ungrammatical sentences (and even incomprehensible ones)

So for example, in sentences like these:

You can criticize whatever you'd like without being so harsh.

He was trying to help, you didn't need to be so harsh.

You can infer by context that both sentences are saying you shouldn't be harsh on said person/thing. However, for sentences like these to be grammatically right, do you need an extra complement? As in:

You can criticize whatever you'd like without being so harsh on it

He was only trying to help, you didn't need to be so harsh on him.

My question, to sum it up, is: Do I need to put an extra complement for my sentence to be grammatically right, even if I already said it and you can infer it through context?

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  • Spelling; "syntax"
    – James K
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 6:01

1 Answer 1

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For your first example, I'd use about it. Being harsh on would usually refer to harshness directed at a person, as in your second example. Otherwise, both examples are grammatical, and understandable given the right context.

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    Are you suggesting that the examples are fine with or also without the bolded phrases? (By the way, I’d say “be harsh toward” a person. Perhaps the choice of preposition depends on dialect.) Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 7:50
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    The examples are fine either with or without the bolded phrases. They don't even make the examples more specific - the object of the harshness is implied by the context. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 12:22
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    I agree completely. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 18:43

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