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  1. rainous's Avatar
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    #1

    looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"

    In the sentence above, does "looting" get hooked up with "of religious buildings" or stand on it own?


    thanks.

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    #2

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    It's ambiguous, rainous.

    A comma after looting would isolate it, but as it stands it's not clear.

    Rover

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by rainous View Post
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"

    In the sentence above, does "looting" get hooked up with "of religious buildings" or stand on it own?


    thanks.
    I would say that 'looting' stands alone.
    If 'looting or desecration of religious buildings" was meant, the sentence is not grammatical. It would have to read like this:
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, or looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    That is, "Have you ever seen A or B". The original sentence reads "Have you ever witnessed A, B" (if you assume that 'looting' belongs with 'desecration').
    This is a good example of the need to use serial commas sometimes, and I believe, of the advisability of always using them.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I would say that 'looting' stands alone.
    If 'looting or desecration of religious buildings" was meant, the sentence is not grammatical. It would have to read like this:
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, or looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    That is, "Have you ever seen A or B". The original sentence reads "Have you ever witnessed A, B" (if you assume that 'looting' belongs with 'desecration').
    This is a good example of the need to use serial commas sometimes, and I believe, of the advisability of always using them.
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    It's from the application form for immigration to Canada, and it's written exactly as above.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    It's from the application form for immigration to Canada, and it's written exactly as above.
    Yes, that's OK. Assuming that they've written what is meant, they are interested in three separate things; and they haven't used a serial comma, thus making it ambiguous to some.
    I wasn't saying it's wrong. But it is wrong if they meant "[looting or desecration] of religious buildings."
    If they mean [looting] or [desecration of religious buildings], it's right.

    That's what the original question was asking.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    It's from the application form for immigration to Canada, and it's written exactly as above.
    I suspect a runaway grammar-checker, or maybe a self-styled 'stylist' (who thought that having to 'or's was something to avoid).

    b

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I suspect a runaway grammar-checker, or maybe a self-styled 'stylist' (who thought that having to 'or's was something to avoid).

    b
    I don't know. Do Canadians use the Oxford comma? If not, then it's correct.

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    #8

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Have you ever witnessed or participated in ill treatment of prisoners or civilians, looting or desecration of religious buildings?"
    It's from the application form for immigration to Canada, and it's written exactly as above.
    Regardless of comma usage, I think you should say "no" if you want to be let in.

  7. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    This is a good example of the need to use serial commas sometimes, and I believe, of the advisability of always using them.
    If the serial comma had a fan page on Facebook, I'd "like" it!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: looting or desecration of religious buildings?

    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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