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    #1

    Sentence structure problem

    Would someone please tell me, in detailed technical terms, what is wrong with the structure of the following sentence? Thanks!

    "An apple is a fruit and computer enjoyed by John."

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    #2

    Re: Sentence structure problem

    Quote Originally Posted by tblatherton View Post
    Would someone please tell me, in detailed technical terms, what is wrong with the structure of the following sentence? Thanks!

    "An apple is a fruit and computer enjoyed by John."
    I am not sure how fans of technical terms might explain it, but, for the benefit of those who prefer simple expressions, here is my suggestion:

    In that sentence, 'fruit and computer' is presented as though it is an 'A and B' expression such as 'gin and tonic' in: A pink gin is a gin and tonic regarded by some as a cocktail. 'Fruit and computer' is not such an expression.

    Where the situation is in reality A is B and C is D, your sentence is saying that A is B and D. Clearly this is not the case. If you want to say that A is B and C is D using words, then you need to say: An apple is a fruit, and an Apple is a computer. If you wish, you can add the detail of John's enjoyment of them:

    An apple is a fruit, and an Apple is a computer, both of which John enjoys.
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Oct-2011 at 20:01. Reason: minor typo

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    #3

    Re: Sentence structure problem

    Thanks for the quick reply, fivejedjon.

    Unfortunately, my problem is not how to correct the sentence, but how to explain to an associate why the sentence is incorrect and why a corrected version (such as the one you proposed) is correct.

    Also, it's not so much about this particular sentence, but sentences that have this general form, such as the following:

    "Nike is a company and clothing line developed by Phil Knight."

    Shouldn't that sentence be changed to something like the following, and why?

    "Nike is both a company and a clothing line, which were both developed by Phil Knight."

    Is there a language expert out there who can help me?
    Last edited by tblatherton; 09-Oct-2011 at 19:49. Reason: additional info

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    #4

    Re: Sentence structure problem

    Well, I may not have used technical terms, but I did explain why the first was incorrect.

    With the exception of some collective nouns, and a few commonly accepted expressions such as gin and tonic, fish and chips, we cannot equate one singular noun with two or more singular nouns unless these nouns can be equated with each other.

    Thus we can say that Barrack Obama is the President of the United States and commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces, because the President of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces (and the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces is the President of the United States).

    We cannot say An apple is a fruit and a computer because a computer is not a fruit (and a fruit is not a computer).

    By the way - welcome to the forum.

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    #5

    Re: Sentence structure problem

    I hadn't seen your addition when I submitted my last post.
    "Nike is a company and clothing line developed by Phil Knight."

    Shouldn't that sentence be changed to something like the following, and why?

    "Nike is both a company and a clothing line, which were both developed by Phil Knight
    Ideally it should be "Nike" is the name of both a company and clothing line ... The logical reason is clear - Nike is not a company, etc; it's the name of the company, etc. However, few people bother with such fine distinctions if the meaning is clear. In this example, although one cannot really equate company and clothing line, we can the names, and so Nike is a company and clothing line developed by Phil Knight is possible.

    This is totally impossible (except as a joke) in your original sentence, where the first noun represents an impossible conflation of two homophones, apple (the fruit) and Apple (the computer).

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    #6

    Re: Sentence structure problem

    Thank you, Jed.

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