0

I have a sentence that is constructed the same as this one:

She bought food for a black cat, a white horse, a red dog, and a green frog.

However, I feel the comma does not give enough pause for what I want to convey. Instead of a series for which the comma is used, I would like more separation between each item when the list is read aloud. That is, each item is more important on its own than in the series.

So I wrote this instead:

She bought food for a black cat, for a white horse, for a red dog, and for a green frog.

I use for (from the conjunction mnemonic FANBOYS) in addition to the comma to create the pause I want. Is this so incorrect? Should I just stick with the commas, or is there a better way to represent a longer pause?

11
  • 4
    I have no idea what the significance of the word "FANBOYS" is in this context. Care to elaborate? Jul 16, 2013 at 5:17
  • 3
    "for" of FANBOYS refers to the coordinating conjunction for (He ate, for he was hungry), not the preposition for (The food is for you). Jul 16, 2013 at 5:45
  • 1
    FANBOYS is a mnemonic device for for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Jul 16, 2013 at 5:51
  • @SimonKuang From where? How is that useful? Seems too bizarre. No native speaker has ever been taught that way. Is this some ESL thing?
    – tchrist
    Jul 16, 2013 at 15:55
  • 1
    @tch American schools. Jul 16, 2013 at 18:56

1 Answer 1

1

Your replacement sentence is perfectly grammatical, but quite formal. It sounds like you're using repetition as a rhetorical device, rather than something somebody would say naturally.

But to be honest, your initial sentence comes across as a little unnatural too. Why mention the colours of the animals? Why is this woman buying food for a cat, rather than the cat or her cat? If you recast the initial sentence in a more natural way, the ambiguity disappears:

She bought food for her cat, horse, dog and frog.

Does that help?

8
  • What’s a dog and frog?
    – tchrist
    Jul 16, 2013 at 15:37
  • 2
    There's no such thing as a dog and frog; but the sentence doesn't suggest there is. It simply refers to the woman's four separate animals. Jul 16, 2013 at 15:42
  • Add a comma then.
    – tchrist
    Jul 16, 2013 at 15:48
  • 4
    Not necessary; an Oxford comma isn't used so much in ordinary english (BE) these days. Jul 16, 2013 at 15:53
  • 3
    Clearly you use the Oxford comma normally. But this isn't relevant to the OP's question at all. Jul 16, 2013 at 15:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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