1

Which of the following structure is correct?

1) You can pass A by doing B, by writing C, and by reading D.

2) You can pass A by doing B, writing C, and reading D.

  • 2
    They both seem fine, colloquially at least. – BladorthinTheGrey Oct 13 '16 at 18:06
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Let's expand possible interpretations of each.

1) You can pass A by doing B, by writing C, and by reading D.

Can become

1) {You can pass A by doing B}, {you can pass A by writing C}, and {you can pass A by reading D}.

This is equivalent to passing A by completing B, or C, or D. I don't think that's your intention.

2) You can pass A by doing B, writing C, and reading D.

Can become

2) {You can pass A by doing B}, {You can pass A writing C}, and {You can pass A writing D}.

The second and third groupings here aren't grammatical. The natural expansion is the one I think you want, that passing A by completing B, C and D.

People may correctly interpret either as and, but the second, I think, is less ambiguous. Contracts often hang on this type of language, and in that case, you'd normally expand things explicitly. The word "and" is often banished from patent claims where this type of nit-picking happens frequently.

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Both structures have an extra comma after "writing C".

The first one is a little misleading, a good lawyer may convince you that if you perform only one of the activities listed it may assure you pass A.

The second one is clearer, it means that you must do the three activities to pass A.

  • 1
    Eh ... the Oxford comma here is not absolutely incorrect. I also disagree that (1) lists mutually exclusive options. Anyone who meant that would say "or." – Azor Ahai Oct 13 '16 at 21:29
  • I said extra comma, because its not necessary and misleading. Though it's more common to use "or" to connect alternatives, the structure in (1) allows you to use "and" for that purpose. – Julio Cesar Stella Oct 13 '16 at 21:41
  • I don't think the comma contributes to that confusion. – Azor Ahai Oct 13 '16 at 21:46

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