English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

For example:

The smartphone is blue, small, lightweight, (it) has three buttons, two cameras...

Is the "it" relevant? Can I omit it?

share|improve this question
Not a direct answer, but I would probably use two different sentences; one for the description of the phone itself and another for its features. "The smartphone is blue, small, and lightweight. It has three buttons, two cameras..." – Wesley Murch Feb 23 '13 at 23:55

I would say that with the it (and probably even without it) it is a run-on sentence/comma-splice which should be avoided. A possible solution would be to use with three buttons instead, or use a semi-colon before it.

The smartphone is blue, small, and lightweight; it has three buttons, two cameras...

share|improve this answer

It isn't incorrect, just unnecessary. Consider this shorter example:

The smartphone is blue, has three buttons, and is lightweight.

Compared to:

The smartphone is blue, it has three buttons, and it is lightweight.

They're both acceptable, but whenever you can use fewer words to convey the same message, usually you should.

share|improve this answer
The crucial difference between the original sentence and your example is the conjunction and which turns this into two main clauses separated by a conjunction. That is fine, as opposed to the (original) version without the and. Oh, and it should be 'fewer words' ;) – Oliver Mason Feb 23 '13 at 23:47
@OliverMason Thanks, I assumed the ellipsis was not a literal example, and the OP meant that the sentence actually continues. I'm sure that's the case and he's writing some copy (in which case, the fewer words the better). Does my edit make sense to you? I may be out of my element on this site, I don't really have the technical chops. – Wesley Murch Feb 23 '13 at 23:49
Yes, your examples are fine in that they show that the it is optional. I agree with your comment on the original question. – Oliver Mason Feb 23 '13 at 23:57

Normally when you write a sentence that enumerates items on a list, the entries should appear as a parallel series of items, which you can think of as parallel limbs branching off the trunk of a tree. The question is, What is the trunk?

In your example, the first six words, "The smartphone is blue, small, lightweight," signals to readers that the trunk of the sentence is "The smartphone is": the next three words ("blue, small, lightweight") branch out from that trunk in parallel.

But the fourth entry in your list breaks the established parallelism by introducing another verb ("has"). Logically the trunk plus limb here reads "The smartphone is has three buttons," which doesn't work as normal English. Of course, readers can mentally correct the inconsistency for you, but they shouldn't have to.

You can deal with the problem in several ways. One approach is to change the trunk from "The smartphone is" to simply "The smartphone":

The smartphone is blue, is small, is lightweight, has three buttons, has two cameras...

Another is to treat the list as a series of parallel saplings:

The smartphone is blue; it is small; it is lightweight; it has three buttons; it has two cameras...

But both of those strategies produce rather awful-sounding results, at least in this instance. So your wisest course here is probably to follow Oliver Mason's suggestion and break the single, long, inconsistently parallel series of entries into two shorter, internally consistent series of parallels:

The smartphone is blue, small, and lightweight; it has three buttons, two cameras...

share|improve this answer
This answer is both accurate and creative. Furthermore, various types of non-parallel construction are becoming FAR too common. ("We ate cake, candy, and played games." "He was tall, strong, and rode horses.") You see it all the time, and it drives me nuts! – John M. Landsberg Feb 24 '13 at 1:30
Sven Yargs By the way, the semicolon is a good suggestion, but "and" is usually and preferably not used after a semicolon. – John M. Landsberg Feb 24 '13 at 1:35
Thanks, John M. Landsberg. Since Oliver Mason didn't use "and" in his original example, I'll remove it from the example I attributed to him. – Sven Yargs Feb 24 '13 at 1:40

It seems to me if you do use this sort of ellipsis, the reader will naturally assume that the omitted word is a repeat of the main verb. So ..is small and [is] lightweight; has three buttons, [has] two cameras and [has] a flash. Not elegant, but OK. Change the semicolon to a comma, though, and you have not only a comma splice as Oliver Mason says, but something that would expand to is small and [is] lightweight, has three buttons, [is] two cameras, and a flash. ???

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.