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Something I read today is a publish article raises my doubt about whether "and" or "or" is absolutely necessary when enumerating.

It runs:

A book makes the perfect gift, the perfect giveaway, the perfect method of saying, "Consider the following..."

After reading this, I felt inserting either "and" or "or" makes the sentence sound quite weird.

  • You're right that lists don't always need explicit connectives. But that sentence is not grammatical in most varieties of English: it needs to be either "A book makes ... " or "Books make ...", so if you have transcribed the sentence accurately I would advise against relying on the source for models of English. – Colin Fine Jul 2 '15 at 20:30
  • @ColinFine, why not? – most venerable sir Jul 2 '15 at 20:36
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    You've edited the question to remove what I was objecting to, without comment, so I can't tell whether you had accurately transcribed it or not. If not, then it's your error, and I advise you to be more careful when transcribing. If your original transcription was accurate, then the source has made a basic error in English. – Colin Fine Jul 3 '15 at 9:36
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You may have overlooked that it is not necessarily a list to begin with. It could be simply noun phrases in apposition. Apposition is the use of a grammatically unnecessary noun phrase called an appositive phrase to describe the preceding noun phrase. To illustrate apposition, here are some examples with the appositive phrase in bold:

I visited Canada, a beautiful country. (from Wikipedia)

You are better than anyone, anyone I've ever met. (from Wikipedia)

But it is a trap, a clever trick by someone who is trying to get as much information about you as possible without you noticing. (from http://think-smarter.blogspot.sg/2009_01_01_archive.html)

In fact, just like the last example above, in the very text you quote:

A book makes the perfect gift, the perfect giveaway, the perfect method of saying, "Consider the following..."

apposition is the intended meaning, and it would be incorrect to insert "and" or "or" because "the perfect giveaway" and "the perfect method of saying ..." both describe "the perfect gift" and are not separate from it.

  • That makes sense! – most venerable sir Jul 3 '15 at 1:30
  • @Doeser: You're welcome! If this answers your question you can mark it as the answer. =) – user21820 Jul 3 '15 at 1:32
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The technical term is asyndeton, and it can be applied to phrases and clauses. It is useful when a change of pace is needed, or the rhythm needs to be simplified .

You may find the following interesting. The first deals with clauses in a list. english.stackexchange.com/questions/15970/… The second with alist as a,b,c, and d english.stackexchange.com/questions/220426/

The sources are given on these sites.

  • What do you mean by "the rhyme needs to be simplified"? I thought all an asyndeton does is to convey the speed and urgency? – most venerable sir Jul 3 '15 at 1:49
  • My inference is that the repetitive use of "and" when listing retains the rhyme, as is said in your second link. – most venerable sir Jul 3 '15 at 1:51
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    @Doeser, Syndeton can convey urgency like this: War and disease and famine and panic and fear. and Asyndeton like this: blood, sweat, tears, toil, grief. But one is a trochaic rhythm TUM-ti,TUM-ti,TUM-titi. – Hugh Jul 3 '15 at 3:12
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    @Doeser, good comments. Syndeton can convey urgency like this:> >War and disease and famine and panic and fear. and Asyndeton like this: >>blood, sweat, tears, toil, grief. But one is a trochaic rhythm TUM-ti,TUM-ti,TUM-titi.; and the other is Spondaic; DUM, DUM, DUM,.thud thud thud Sometimes one rhythm seems right, sometimes another. Sometimes Dactyls like this "This and the next and the next and the next." which gallops along – Hugh Jul 3 '15 at 3:21
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    @Doeser: Hugh said "rhythm", not "rhyme". They are entirely different. – Colin Fine Jul 3 '15 at 9:37

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