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I've asked in textranch.com to correct a sentence I've written which I was not sure of:

1) A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities which has many financial responsibilities.

I was corrected to:

2) A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities and has many financial responsibilities.

Why is the first sentence wrong and the second right? Is it possible in the second sentence that the subject is not expressed? Why? Thank you in advance

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  • Certainly. The sentence has one subject (a bursar) with a compound verb (*is...and..has). You could also say An important figure in UK and US universities is the bursar, who has many financial responsibilities.
    – deadrat
    Aug 27, 2016 at 5:22
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    @brasshat 'Which' is totally unacceptable in this usage here in the UK too. Please give support for your claim; I suspect you're confusing this with the use of 'that' after 'The man' etc. But John Lawler [US] has said that 'the man that I know' is as acceptable as 'the man who I know'. Aug 27, 2016 at 9:49
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    I get so tired of these supposed differences between AE and BE when they are so OFF.
    – Lambie
    Aug 27, 2016 at 14:22
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    Do you think we actually speak in AV? It's an archaic usage, preserved by a small minority in just about one set text. Less than 2% of the population regularly even attend Anglican services. We've stopped speaking in Shakespearean too. 'A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities which has many financial responsibilities.' would be marked wrong in 100% of UK schools. Aug 27, 2016 at 16:03
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    @brasshat. This is not about British vs American. It is about the difference between 17th century English and 21st century English.
    – fdb
    Aug 27, 2016 at 18:55

2 Answers 2

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There are several options here, which can be seen as grammatically correct:

  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities who has many financial responsibilities.

  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities, having many financial responsibilities.

  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities, with many financial responsibilities.

  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities, holding many financial responsibilities.

You could also reword it, so:

  • Bursars in UK and US universities are typically important figures, holding many financial responsibilities.

  • The bursar, in UK and US universities, is an important figure due to his or her significant financial responsibilities.

Using which to describe a person isn't good grammar, since who is more typical.

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  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities who has many financial responsibilities. No, that is wrong. Universities who?? The most obvious form you don't even mention: |A bursar in the UK and US is an important figure with many financial responsibilities.|
    – Lambie
    Aug 27, 2016 at 14:25
  • really? I'd think that was pretty obvious what I meant.
    – DES-COA
    Aug 27, 2016 at 14:35
  • Your first four examples are very awkward English. Sorry, just a fact. They sound unedited.
    – Lambie
    Aug 27, 2016 at 15:06
  • I'd upvote you except for the awkward gerunds in your 2nd and 4th suggestions. Aug 28, 2016 at 12:06
  • they are not awkward at all, but grammatically correct in all cases.
    – DES-COA
    Aug 29, 2016 at 0:42
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//A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities which has many financial responsibilities. I was corrected to: 2) A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities and has many financial responsibilities. //

As a professional editor, I would phrase it thus:

A bursar in UK and US universities is an important figure with many financial responsibilities.

Simpler is always better. No gerunds, no commas and no compound sentence.

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  • And a slight change in meaning. If the OP was defining bursar, and trying to get across the point that the position of bursar only exists in education institutions, you've completely lost this nuance. Aug 28, 2016 at 12:03
  • It is a rewrite of A bursar in UK and US universities is an important figure with many financial responsibilities. And mine is better. :) The idea "that they only exist in US and UK universities" is not there. What is there is the definition of one function in two separate places where the term has the same meaning.
    – Lambie
    Aug 28, 2016 at 17:22
  • But the OP's sentence was "A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities which has many financial responsibilities." You're rewriting the wrong sentence. Compare The tsar was the ruler of the Russian people who had absolute power and The tsar of the Russian people was a ruler with absolute power. You can't just shuffle clauses around like that and expect it to mean exactly the same thing. Aug 28, 2016 at 17:26
  • A bursar is an important figure in UK and US universities, idea one. Idea two: bursars have many financial responsibilities. My sentence reflects that. The OP is not saying the position of bursar only exists in educational institutions. It is not even suggested....
    – Lambie
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:12

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