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The ability to echo words and still make a meaningful statement has always bugged me. Take this example sentence:

"Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. We will take care of this this afternoon."

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Also, is there a technical term for the echoed 'this'?

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4  
Yes, it's fine. The two different 'this's have different necessary functions. –  Mitch Jun 5 '12 at 15:52
    
Just imagine if we were discussing the grammaticality of two different sentences with the "doubled this". We would be able to say. "This this this is correct, while that this this is not." And then you might talk about my sentence here... –  Jim Jun 5 '12 at 16:03
1  
@Jim: That "that that" that that book has should just read "that." –  J.R. Jun 6 '12 at 1:17

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You could avoid the echo by saying we will take care of it this afternoon as you have established the it in the previous sentence.

I believe the term is doubled words.

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Thanks for the term! –  CamelBlues Jun 6 '12 at 16:41

Sure it's grammatically correct. There are many cases where a word can occur twice in a row and make complete sense, especially when the word is being used with two different definitions. "After fixing twenty mistakes, Sally had had enough." "Bob saw that that was not the right answer." "I got lost because I turned right too soon, but then I circled around and made the right right turn." And of course if you try hard you can come up with crazy examples, like the ever-popular "Buffalo" sentence. (I know that was quoted on here somewhere.)

In most cases where a word is used twice in a row people read it without noticing. If you think in a given case it might be confusing, then sure, find a way to re-word it.

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1  
Buffalo sentence: english.stackexchange.com/a/2462/58 –  J.T. Grimes Jun 5 '12 at 18:19

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