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Version (1) seems correct to me, but I cannot explain why it is correct grammatically. Could someone explain please?

  1. Either your dog or your cat eats my garbage.
  2. Either your dog or cat eats my garbage.
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Please post a comment on why this question is down voted so that I can improve my future posts. I'm honestly trying to learn and don't mean to post useless questions here. –  Alex Dec 30 '12 at 20:37
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I didn't downvote, but most likely it's because the question is a bit basic. Why do we usually say "I'll get my hat and coat", for example, rather than "I'll get my hat and my coat". Or even "I'll get my hat and I'll get my coat". I'd have thought all languages are naturally riddled with examples of deletion - any process whereby sounds or words are left out of spoken words or phrases –  FumbleFingers Dec 30 '12 at 21:47
    
@FumbleFingers - thanks for the info. I didn't know the grammar rules around this so I posted the question. –  Alex Dec 31 '12 at 5:14
    
No need to be apologetic. Of the dozens of people who've viewed the question thus far, 3 have upvoted, and 2 have answered. That's 4 (or 5) "favourable" responses (I didn't upvote, but I don't know about gmcgath), so a single downvote is nothing to worry about. Most likely essentially the same question has already been asked before - but no-one else has yet found it and voted to close as a duplicate, so you can't be criticised for not finding it yourself before you asked (if indeed that duplicate does exist! :). –  FumbleFingers Dec 31 '12 at 13:35
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's not a question of correctness. Most speakers would "delete" the second your in most contexts, but if they specifically wanted to pin the blame on the addressee's pets (rather than another neighbour's pets, for example), they'd probably repeat the pronoun for the sake of emphasis.

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I actually think the repeated your can sometimes here make for better rhythm/flow/prosody/balance of the overall sentence, depending on how it gets phrased. Try it a few ways, and it just seems to balance out better in some permutations. –  tchrist Dec 30 '12 at 22:06
    
@tchrist: You're very probably right that prosody is an influence. I wouldn't mind betting the chances of your being repeated increase as you replace dog and cat with 2- or 3-syllable nouns, for example. And it's practically a dead cert you'll repeat it if the first one is some long convoluted noun phrase (but that's probably more to do with clarity/comprehensibility). –  FumbleFingers Dec 30 '12 at 22:14
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This is another example of the common syntactic process called Conjunction Reduction, which gets rid of repeated material in parallel clauses or phrases. It's optional, so you can do it or not do it, as you like.

There's no difference in meaning, because syntactic processes don't generally affect meaning, but rather structure. The usual purpose of conjunction reduction is to shorten the spoken sentence. That's all. In writing, it usually produces ambiguity, and in the wrong hands, occasionally ungrammaticality; in writing one shouldn't delete words without a good reason, because written language needs all the help it can get to represent spoken language.

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The first feels a bit more natural, but both are grammatical.

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