English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

I sometimes find myself writing something like this:

XXX is a project I admire and am very interested in.

The "I <verb> and am <something>" feels strange here. It somehow sounds more natural in the 3rd person "he admires and is very interested in".

Am I just imagining - is it OK to use this construct, or should I use something completely else?

share|improve this question
up vote 53 down vote accepted

This sentence is an example of Conjunction Reduction, the syntactic rule that deletes repeated material in conjoined clauses, for example

  • Bill washed the dishes and Bill swept the floor.Bill washed the dishes and swept the floor.
  • Bill washed the dishes and Bill dried the dishes.Bill washed and dried the dishes.

The relative clause modifying project in the original sentence is the focus, so let's get it out of a subordinate clause and see what it looks like:

  • I admire and am very interested in the project.

which comes from

  • I admire the project and I am very interested in the project.

by a perfectly normal application of Conjunction Reduction.

There's nothing grammatically wrong with this sentence.

One thing that may make it feel wrong to some -- but not others; there's a lot of individual variation here, since everybody makes up their own internal rules, for their own reasons, about what "sounds right" -- is that the first verb of the conjoined VP (admire) is uninflected for person and number, while the second verb (am) is inflected, for first person singular present tense.

This agrees of course with the subject, but morphologically instead of syntactically, which may produce some distress to those who require more grammatical parallelism between conjoined verbs.

Another related difficulty might be that the inflected form am is so closely linked to its subject pronoun I that it is difficult to separate them, and indeed most of the time they're contracted to I'm. This makes am feel rather isolated out there.

Again, this isn't a grammatical problem per se, but it can occasion some distress in some readers.

I say "readers" because nobody would say such a sentence, of course. We'd say I'm instead of am, by repeating the subject, which is allowed (Conjunction Reduction is an optional rule applied to reduce unwelcome repetition, and in any given case this repetition may simply not be unwelcome).

share|improve this answer
Great answer, thanks. Indeed, my lack of comfort with this sentence is the "isolation" of "am". – Eli Bendersky Dec 16 '11 at 22:59
Isn't the issue rather that admire has a direct object, whereas am very interested in has a prepositional object? A zeugma or "conjunction reduction" can work with that in simple sentences, but the combination of (1.) different kinds of objects and (2.) some distance between the first verb and its object can be off-putting. – Cerberus Mar 10 '12 at 3:15
@Cerberus: I don't think that's a problem; English has lots of phrasal verbs, and mixing them in parallel constructions is generally permissible. e.g. "(cease) and (desist from) doing somthing". – Mechanical snail May 30 '12 at 9:27
@Mechanicalsnail: Yes, generally; but there is little distance between cease and desist from. And cease and desist is a very familiar fixed pair. I think mixing different kinds of objects can become a bit of an issue in a construction like this when there is some distance between the two: this man I fear but defer to v. this man I fear but would gladly serve v. this man I fear but would gladly defer to. Somehow the last sentence is a bit less easy on the tongue than the first two. – Cerberus May 30 '12 at 11:57
Greg Lee insists that " 'I admire and am very interested in the project.' which comes from 'I admire the project and I am very interested in the project.' by a perfectly normal application of Conjunction Reduction." is incorrect. Is this the usual different-terminology issue? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 24 at 19:30

Not only do I agree that it is grammatically correct, but I don't think it sounds strange or unusual either.

However, the beauty of the English language is that there are usually a dozen different ways of communicating the same things, so if you aren't comfortable with it, by all means use something else.

share|improve this answer

Grammatically there is nothing wrong with it. And coordinates two of the same type of phrase; am and admire are verbs, so you're just coordinating two verb phrases:

XXX is a project I [[admire] and [am very interested in]].

If the final preposition is making it feel awkward, you could try XXX is a project I admire and in which I'm very interested.

share|improve this answer
I think probably OP feels the construction is a little awkward because two different elements are being elided - "that" (or "which", the project), as well as "I". Personally I agree it might be a step too far in writing, but it's fine in informal speech. – FumbleFingers Dec 16 '11 at 14:24
I agree that the trailing preposition is the only troublesome part of the example. – Ben Voigt Dec 19 '11 at 3:18
I like most of this answer, but I think the trailing preposition is fine. The proposed alternative is, in contrast, fairly awkward. – snailplane Nov 23 '13 at 4:19
@FumbleFingers Funny, I would say the exact opposite: it’s fine in writing, but I would never dream of saying it in informal speech, and anyone who did would risk coming off a bit poncy-posh. Colloquially, I would always repeat the subordinator and the pronoun: “XXX is a project I admire and that I’m very interested in”. On the other hand (to alcas and Ben’s point), I would never move up the preposition unless deliberately going for a very formal feel. I agree with snailboat that “… and in which I’m very interested” is awfully clunky and unnatural to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '15 at 11:34

I don't think it's technically wrong, but I share your view that it sounds a bit strange.

How about:

Etherpad is a project that has been attracting my interest and admiration for a long time.


share|improve this answer

It is grammatically correct but it sounds like an "effect" to me, or like a zeugma. These rhetorical effects are better used in a proper context, maybe poetry, maybe humorous, or to attract the attention of the reader on the presence of your sentence. Here it is not the case: you want to attract the attention of the reader to the subject ("XXX"), not to your writing.

share|improve this answer

If you tweak the structure of your sentence, you can change its rhythm.

Try adding a pronoun to the original to form a compound sentence ...

like this ...

XXX is a project I admire, and I am very interested in it.

or this ...

I admire XXX, and I am very interested in it.

or this ...

XXX is a project I admire, and it holds my interest.

share|improve this answer

protected by Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 18 '15 at 11:29

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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