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I am composing a sentence:

People who have children who score A's in school and have good health are very happy.

In this sentence, 'have good health' is intended to be a clause of 'people'; however, it can also be a clause of 'children'.

How to revise this sentence to make it unambiguous?

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Oxford comma.

Use a comma before the and, and there: separate clauses, no ambiguity (to a reader who understands the significance of a dummy comma.)

"… score A's in school, and have good health … "

It may also help to drop the second have:

"school, and good health"

  • in this case, where should I put the comma? – zx_wing Oct 21 '14 at 6:48
  • 'People who have children who score A's in school, and have good health are very happy.', is this right? – zx_wing Oct 21 '14 at 6:48
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People who enjoy good health and whose children score As (0r A's) in school are very happy.

The expression "enjoy good health" is idiomatic, and by shifting its position next to the subject, people, there is no ambiguity. The conjugation and expresses that people who possess both qualities are "happy". Instead the following phrase

People whose children score As (0r A's) in school and enjoy good health are very happy.

means that parents whose children perform well at school AND are healthy are happy. Which is a perfectly reasonable affirmation, and one nobody would disagree with.

  • My answer is categorically not wrong. The Op asked "How to revise this sentence to make it unambiguous?". No mention about punctuation or leaving the sentence intact. I offered the best and most unambiguous solution. I stand by it, unless the usual downvoter would care to justify their downvote. – Mari-Lou A Oct 21 '14 at 7:20
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How about:

People of good health who have children who score A's in school are very happy.

or

 People with good health having children who score A's in school are very happy.

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