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What is grammatically correct?

I participated in the math club, in the cycling club and in the computer game design club.


I participated in the math club, the cycling club and the computer game design club.

or more formal. If you write an enumeration that starts with in the, do you have to repeat the words in the each time?

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Neither is particularly more or less formal. Nor would it make much difference if you elided "the" after the first one. Except to make it even more obvious you didn't capitalise the math club. Do you hold mathematicians in less regard than cyclists and game designers? – FumbleFingers Jan 30 '13 at 4:12
It was just a minimal example (with some copy-paste work :s). thank you for your quick response. – Willem Van Onsem Jan 30 '13 at 4:18
It was just a throwaway good-natured dig (I thought it best to lighten the tone in case Peter Shor felt slighted! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 30 '13 at 4:47
Pity about the commas. – tchrist Jan 30 '13 at 5:43
You could also write I was {active in / a member of [CHOOSE ONE]} the math, cycling, and computer-game-design clubs. Eliminate verbosity! – user21497 Jan 30 '13 at 6:18
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Use the second sentence. I also insist on the so-called Oxford comma (after "club"), but some people feel otherwise.

Why not the first sentence? The first example uses the rhetorical device anaphora, and so is, strictly speaking, more formal. But the mundaneness of the sentence undercuts the effect of the device, so the repetition becomes, I think, pleonastic.

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