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http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21588388-georgias-governor-faces-ethics-questions-not-first-time-raw-deal

...., he has two options: accept the charges or rebut them.

Is the sentence fragmented, as gerunds or "to" are needed when you have verbs inside an appositive. Should the sentence rewrite as the following:

...., he has two options: to accept/accepting the charges or to rebut/rebutting them.

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2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

I agree with you that the first version sounds somewhat over-staccato. It meaning is, however, quite clear. The composition of parentheticals (here 'accept the charges or rebut them') is not usually scrutinised quite as thoroughly as the syntax of the matrix sentence. Recasting slightly:

...., he has two options, which are: accept the charges or rebut them.

seems equally over-staccato.

...., he has two options, which are to accept the charges or (to) rebut them.

sound fine.

...., he has two options, which are accept the charges or rebut them.

is possibly ungrammatical.

...., he has two options (accept the charges or rebut them).

is probably allowable, as bracketed parentheticals seem to be allowed more flexibility - they're already 'staccatoed'.

...., he has two options (to accept the charges or rebut them).

is undoubtedly allowable.

...., he has two options, which are:

(a) accept the charges

(b) rebut them.

is now in listed-point format, acceptable but quite different in style.

I wouldn't dare to label the Economist's rendition as ungrammatical, but I'd avoid it. There's probably a US - UK divide over assessing 'how it sounds' as well, with US speakers considering it more acceptable stylewise.

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thanks, very well elaborated. –  user49119 Oct 29 '13 at 11:31
    
Sorry to come back to this question after so long. You mentioned that bracketed parentheticals seem to be allowed more flexibility.Ares dashed parentheticals considered to have the same flexibility? And is the flexibility of both(bracketed,dashed parentheticals) widely accepted in formal writing? –  user49119 Nov 1 '13 at 7:42
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accept the charges or rebut them is not two choices — think of it: though it appears so and may be so understood by instinct. Why?

What is intended is:
… he has two options: "to accept the charges," and "to rebut them."
i.e., … he has two options, to accept the charges, and to rebut them.
However, that is not as clear as the structure where the options are clearly set out in quotes.

… he has the option either "to accept the charges," or "to rebut them."
i.e., … he has the option either to accept the charges, or to rebut them.
The last conveys the intended meaning without ambiguity.

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