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I know that, in some cases, it can change the meaning. For instance,

"The delay depends on how the cpu handles the processes and the network load."

is ambiguous and could mean that the cpu handles the network load, while

"The delay depends on how the cpu handles the processes and on the network load."

is more clear.

But, what about:

"The travel time depends on how fast you walk and the distance to your destination."

Would it be better to put an "on" preposition before "the distance to your destination"?

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The two mean different things. Your original says the approach depends on how the cpu handles processes and on how the cpu handles the network bandwidth. By adding the on the meaning changes to say that the approach depends on how the cpu handles the processes and the approach depends on the network bandwidth. In the first there is a single dependency on how the cpu handles stuff. The second adds a dependency on bandwidth apart from the cpu handling of it. – Jim Nov 16 '12 at 15:04
network bandwith doesn't change; network load does. With regard to CPU, it's usually not the bottleneck, file I/O is or at least the motherboard. CPU is the fastest component, so with few exceptions other things hold up processing. – Chris Nov 16 '12 at 15:12
Wow, great point, I hadn't thought about it, and you're right, @Jim. Although you answered my original question, I'll edit the question accordingly for the sake of having a good answer in this forum's archive. – Eduardo Bezerra Nov 16 '12 at 15:12
up vote 3 down vote accepted

X depends on Y and Z


X depends on Y and on Z

are both correct.

The approach depends on how the cpu handles the processes and the network bandwidth available at the moment

is ambiguous because it can mean the dependency is on two things (how the cpu handles the processes; network bandwith) or how the cpu handles two things (processes; network bandwith) so you may want to add on to remove this ambiguity if that is what you intend.

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Agreed, for a short object, but what about the sentence I've given, in which each object "depended on" is a long sentence itself? I mean, both are still correct, but which style is preferred? – Eduardo Bezerra Nov 16 '12 at 14:59

I wouldn't say that your first two sentences have different meanings. Rather, your first sentence is ambiguous, while the second eliminates the ambiguity.

I'm not just being pedantic here. The "travel time" example does not need a second "on" because it is not ambiguous. It doesn't hurt to add it, but it's not necessary.

We could read your first sentence as "The delay depends on (how the cpu handles the processes) and (the network load)", or as "The delay depends on how the cpu handles (the processes) and (the network load)". (If you see what I mean by the parentheses.) But there's no such ambiguity in the "travel time" example. You can't "fast the distance".

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So there is no style rule saying which one is preferred, in the second example? – Eduardo Bezerra Nov 16 '12 at 16:08
No. Both clearly express the idea and neither is ambiguous. It's purely a matter of style. I really don't even see a difference in empahsis in that case. – Jay Nov 16 '12 at 18:42

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