I am correcting technical writing for a friend of mine, and I am running into the issue of separating short lists.

Example: There is a relationship between NH and CH and CH and OH.

The sentence should make clear that the relationship exists between the first two and the last two, but not the two sets. What is the best way to clarify this sentence?

  • 4
    I would repeat the preposition. "There is a relationship between NH and CH and between CH and OH."
    – Val
    Sep 16, 2014 at 17:28
  • 1
    @Val: +1. And then I would quickly replace the empty relation with something that indicates what relation you are talking about. Given any two things A and B, there is a relation between them. There is even a relation between any thing A and itself (i.e., A and B need not be distinct to enjoy a relation).
    – Drew
    Sep 16, 2014 at 21:15
  • Thank you very much for the ideas! @ Drew The original sentence was simplified to exclude much of the technical language, including the exact nature of the relationship.
    – Kalysta2
    Sep 17, 2014 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


Change the number of the subject (relationship) from singular to plural, change the number of the verb from singular to plural, and insert a comma after the first "CH"

There are relationships between NH and CH, and CH and OH.

  • 1
    In writing this is fine, but when spoken there's still potential for confusion. Not all people pause for the same amount of time, and a pause doesn't necessarily indicate a comma's supposed to be there.
    – Patrick87
    Sep 16, 2014 at 18:27
  • This is clearly better than without the comma, but I much prefer Val's "and between" preferably with a comma just before those two words.
    – almagest
    Sep 16, 2014 at 19:15

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.