Could anybody please tell which one is correct?

The President is going to give speeches in Belgium, in the Netherlands, in Luxembourg and in France


The President is going to give speeches in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France

  • 1
    See also Oxford, or serial comma. – Father Luke Jul 13 '15 at 8:46
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    Example of what happens when serial comma is omitted: "The President is going to give speeches in Belgium, Netherlands, Serbia and Montenegro and France." – Vladimir Kornea Jul 13 '15 at 17:42
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    The comma is irrelevant; insert it if you hear it, otherwise don't. The omission of prepositions, on the other hand, is syntactic and licensed by the syntactic rule of Conjunction Reduction. – John Lawler Aug 12 '15 at 18:17

Both are fine. The second is an example of a rhetorical device called "zeugma," in which one word applies to many in a set of parallel constructions. Here you have a set of countries that are all the objects in a prepositional phrase, but the preposition appears only once.

  • I am not sure the second is an example of Zeugma. [[ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeugma ]] If it had been " ... give speeches in Belgium, English, & Parliament ... ", then the 3 items are not part of a list and may be considered Zeugma. – Prem Jul 13 '15 at 8:39
  • I'll plead The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. There are many types of zeugma. You've picked one in which the preposition governs different objects in different ways. You could even say "he will give a speech in English and humility," combining a literal and a figurative use. – deadrat Jul 13 '15 at 8:49
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    I checked few more resources and am even more convinced that the second is not an example of Zeugma. [[ dictionary.reference.com/browse/zeugma : the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is appropriate to only one of them or is appropriate to each but in a different way, as in "to wage war and peace" or "On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold" ]] Here "in X, Y, & Z" is a simple list, and "in" means the same for all the items and is the same as "in X, in Y & in Z". – Prem Jul 13 '15 at 10:16
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    Do you have a web reference where there is an example of Zeugma matching your Definition ? Do you have any online material in your support ? I have seen many (and provided two) references where the Definition used is as per my previous comment. { I do not want to start arguing , I only want to learn more } – Prem Jul 13 '15 at 14:52
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    @Prem The Wikipedia article on zeugma includes the CODLT usage (as one of four partly conflicting definitions). I'm not sure if this makes it unsound (being online), but OED and most if not all of Macauley are available online, so perhaps that argument is specious. What I'm more concerned about is the niche usage without a sensible caveat. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 12 '15 at 9:40

Both forms are correct.

"... in X, in Y, in Z ..." : Multiple IN form is used in two cases:
(A) when somebody wants to emphasis some words. Eg "... in Belgium, in Nederlands, ...".
(B) when somebody is speaking impromptu, and wants time to think between countries. Eg "Well, I know the president will give speeches in Belgium, ... in Nederlands, ... in Luxembourg and .... in France".

"... in X, Y, Z ..." Single IN form is nice&short.

Informational Comment:
When some items require Different Prepositional words ("about", "of", "for", "on", "with", etc), we may see many uses of "in" in the same sentence. Eg. "I write stories in weekly magazines about hunting in Africa, for American audiences "with" an interest in wildlife".


Oxford comma aside, the choice is purely rhetorical, stylistic, rhythmic -- it all depends on how it sounds to you. Do you read your work out loud? That can help you decide. Including the "ins" is more emphatic, to my ear; it highlights the fact that the President is giving a number of speeches and that they are in different countries. But it's all up to you, how you want it to sound.

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