The government placed restrictions on both diesel fuel and diesel engines.

Here I dont want to repeat the diesel. I cannot write:

The government placed restrictions on both diesel fuel and engines.

Because it will mean restrictions on diesel fuel and restrictions on all engines, a nonsensical meaning. Please let me know what would be the write way to avoid the repetition of diesel.

Somebody told me we can put hyphen but i am not sure about it:

The government placed restrictions on both diesel-fuel and engines.

  • A hyphen suggestion (which I would disagree with) might be to write, "... on diesel-fuel and -engines."
    – ChrisW
    Jul 16, 2015 at 8:25

4 Answers 4


Only a lawyer could misunderstand "diesel fuel and engines", because they're paid to misunderstand. Likewise "diesel engines and fuel" – that must mean all fuel, they will say. But if you're trying to craft lawyer-proof text, I take your point. I don't think anything is proof against such perversity, and the hyphen suggestion is nonsense, so maybe you'd better bite the bullet and keep two adjectives. I haven't looked, but I bet British legislation would do just that.

  • Perhaps diesel engines and their fuel. Still not impossible to perversely misconstrue, I guess, but not so easy either.
    – LSerni
    May 16, 2015 at 16:07
  • @Iserni: No? Just watch me. We want to cover fuel that is not in the current possession of the diesel engines.
    – David Pugh
    May 16, 2015 at 16:09

The sentence you have now is actually correct — "diesel" is distributed to both "fuel" and "engines." However, you're right that some people might read it as referring to all engines, so you might want to stick to using both adjectives if your objective is absolute clarity.

  • 1
    My objective is absolute clarity. For example when we use same nouns for two adjective such as "on- and off- topic" and "pre- and post-match responses". We can construct in this way. Can I write : "diesel-fuel and - engines"? Probably it will clear the ambiguity as i know that there is an adjective before engines because of hyphen.
    – Jov
    May 16, 2015 at 16:13
  • The hyphen actually might make the sentence more confusing. The construction with hyphens works where there is one noun and two adjectives, but is confusing with two nouns and one adjective.
    – user121812
    May 16, 2015 at 16:19
  • If your objective is absolute clarity, then why worry about repeating words? If your two objectives are absolute clarity and avoiding redundancy, then you have to decide which is more important. Aug 15, 2015 at 13:16

You could say "diesel fuel and the engines that utilize it," though I would suggest that repeating the word diesel is actually less awkward.


You could construct it as such:

"The government placed restrictions on both diesel engines and its fuel."

Although it's potentially a little awkward in construction their is no possible ambiguity (you cannot put anything but diesel fuel in a diesel engine) here if you want to avoid using 'diesel' twice.

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