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Is the following sentence correct?

"My main priority as a tutor has always been to help the learner feel at ease, with me, with themselves and with their own abilities."

I feel like there should be something in between the "at ease" and the rest of the sentence. Something more definitive than a comma. Perhaps a colon?

"My main priority as a tutor has always been to help the learner feel at ease: with me, with themselves and with their own abilities."

I'm not really sure which is correct or better. I do know that it feels off in its current state.

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, FumbleFingers, tchrist, Drew, ermanen Apr 8 '15 at 1:04

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    A colon or dash works fine. And an Oxford comma would better represent how I'd intone the sentence. The comma is a little out of place; omitting it might also be a better choice. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 30 '15 at 22:21
  • I second what Edwin says about the Oxford comma. I'm a big believer in the Oxford comma in general. "My main priority as a tutor has always been to help the learner feel at ease--with me, with themselves, and with their own abilities." – William Bloom Mar 30 '15 at 22:44
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because April Fools. – tchrist Apr 1 '15 at 21:32
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I'd go with an em-dash in this situation:

My main priority as a tutor has always been to help the learner feel at ease--with me, with themselves and with their own abilities.

(I've used two dashes here, but in MS Word I'd insert one long dash, aka the "em-dash".)

Read more about the wonderful em-dash here: http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/em-dash.html

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I think the sentence would flow better if no punctuation was used between "at ease" and "with me." "With me" is a prepositional phrase, and they usually aren't separated by a punctuation mark unless they come at the beginning of a sentence.

My main priority as a tutor has always been to help the learner feel at ease with me, with themselves, and with their own abilities.

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I agree with Nick B. in the sense that it is a prepositional phrase and "with me" answers the question "with whom" so it should not be separated by a comma. I would also like to point out that there is an issue of subject-verb agreement; agreement should be with learners rather than the learner to make the sentence balanced in terms of agreement with singular or plural. My main priority as a tutor has always been to make learners feel at ease with me, with themselves and with their own abilities.

  • Nekito, is your issue that "the learner" doesn't seem to agree with "themselves" and "their," and so you prefer "learners"? While not everybody loves the singular-they, it's actually considered grammatical. Your revision works great, but the OP's version is also fine. – William Bloom Mar 31 '15 at 8:10

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