Suppose I conduct an online survey and am reporting the findings to all those who were expected to respond. Consider this sentence:

All of you who responded opined that backups are an essential overhead.

  1. What should be the punctuation around the repeated verbs (responded and opined) in this sentence?
  2. Is this construct clear enough for non-native speakers?

I believe your sentence is correct as written. However, I would rephrase it for clarity:

All of the respondents opined that backups are an essential overhead.

  • I can get three in a row: "All of you who hated dying respected the opinion." Anyone else? Although 'dying' is a gerund, not a past participle.. – Claudiu Nov 4 '10 at 18:25
  • "All of you who tried becoming crazed respected the opinion." woot. The rule is you need no punctuation among them, otherwise you can say "Those who, panting, running, crazed, exhausted, decided to ...". And I have too much free time. Maybe "All of you who tried expecting becoming crazed respected the opinion." Meaning, some people tried the action of expecting to go insane, and all of them respected the opinion. – Claudiu Nov 4 '10 at 18:26

I would say the proper punctuation would be

All of you who responded opined that backups are an essential overhead.

No punctuations necessary.

It might be a bit confusing for non-native speakers. Especially, the use of "opined".

  • Replace opined with said/commented/remarked etc. My question here is about the construct, not the actual words. – Vaibhav Garg Aug 23 '10 at 8:34
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    Then, in that case, no punctuation is necessary, as trex279 says (nor would any be correct). [all of you who responded] is the subject of the sentence and opined is the verb. It is easier for non-native speakers if you don't use a subject with an embedded clause ("who responded" is an embedded clause within the subject). – Kosmonaut Aug 23 '10 at 18:45
  • I am not a native speaker, but I understand opined as expressed the opinion; maybe it's because I thought of acted, and action. – kiamlaluno Aug 23 '10 at 18:53
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    the verb opine is probably easy for speakers of Romance languages, such as Spanish and Italian, which have cognate verbs opinar and opinare, meaning the same thing. – nohat Aug 23 '10 at 20:48

If this is something you want non-native speakers to understand, it seems like it could be much more straightforward:

Everyone felt that backups are an essential expense.

They already responded to the survey and they know that these results came from respondents, and that these respondents gave their opinion, so why make it so wordy, and why use less common words?

  • But not everyone responded. I intended to make this clear that this might not be the opinion of the general populace. – Vaibhav Garg Aug 24 '10 at 3:22
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    "Of those who responded, everyone felt that backups are an essential expense." If your goal is clarity, then I still think there is no reason to structure the sentence such that you have the verb of an embedded clause butted right up next to the verb of the main clause. – Kosmonaut Aug 24 '10 at 14:04

I would phrase it this way:

Of those who responded, all opined that backups are an essential expense.

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