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I wonder whether because can introduce two or even more reasons; if yes, how they are connected.

For example,

John came late because he woke up late, and his bicycle was broken.

Is the sentence above correct?

Thanks!

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    Yes, it is correct.
    – Neeku
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 10:53
  • I'd prefer the verb "arrived" (or "showed up") to "came", but that's nitpicking and unrelated to the question of "because" (which is correct as it stands in the sentence).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 10:57
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    Yes, it is grammatical. However, it's also ambiguous. It can mean either what you intend, or it can also mean that as a result of the facts that John woke up late and came late to school, his bicycle was broken. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 13:59
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    Don't delete that second because: -- because he woke up late, and because his bicycle was broken. Most ambiguities come from deleting too many words; every time a word is deleted, information is lost from the signal, and must be reconstituted by the receiver, who has to guess. If there's not enough structure left to guide the guess, choices multiply rapidly. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 14:33
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    What @JohnLawler said. An alternative (but not quite as clear) is to remove the comma. That shifts the scope of the because to the conjunction he woke up late AND his bicycle was broken.
    – Drew
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 15:36

2 Answers 2

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Short answer: yes, one "because" can introduce a list of reasons; no, your sentence does not say what you want to say because the comma separates "his bicycle was broken" from the list of reasons for John's lateness. The comma turns "his bicycle was broken" into an independent clause.

Long answer:

John came late because he woke up late and his bicycle was broken.

without a comma is parsed like this:

John came late because {{he woke up late} and {his bicycle was broken}}.

which means:

John came late for the following two reasons. (1) He woke up late. (2) His bicycle was broken.

But with a comma:

John came late because he woke up late, and his bicycle was broken.

it is parsed like this:

{John came late because {he woke up late}}, and his bicycle was broken.

which means:

John came in late because he woke up late. John's bicycle was broken.

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May I suggest changing it to this (removing the Oxford/serial comma):

John came late because he woke up late and his bicycle was broken.

Removing the comma gives a flow that is less of a list and more of an overarching reason in combination.

Speaking of combination, you could change it to:

John came late because he woke up late in combination with his bicycle being broken,(right of this comma, extend your list/reasons to greater than two, or simply add a period/full stop)

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