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I'm trying to make the sentence below sound better:

As a first year undergraduate, I am keen to explore possible careers which, I think, would challenge me and (which) would allow me to create positive change in the world.'

Do I need another which before would allow me to create...? Or is it optional?

  • Welcome to English Language and Usage. I edited out the second question which is off-topic. One question per post is the guideline of Stack Exchange.Please review the edit. – user140086 Nov 22 '16 at 10:50
  • Thanks Rathony. For future reference, how did you manage to indent slightly my sentence above and change the background colour? – Jack Nov 22 '16 at 14:45
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    You can read the link, english.stackexchange.com/help/formatting. Use * * for italics, ** ** for bold, > for quote box in different color. You will learn more as time goes by. Good luck. – user140086 Nov 22 '16 at 14:54
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    @Jack: You can also see the formatting Rathony applied by editing the question yourself. – Martin Bonner Nov 22 '16 at 16:26
  • Thank you for aspiring to create positive change in the world, rather than scheming to do evil. Good luck with that!    :-)   ⁠ – Scott Nov 22 '16 at 23:47
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The second which is optional, but the first which should be a that because it's restricting "possible careers" [Grammarist]. You might want to consider rewriting your sentence as follows, sticking with your same words:

As a first year undergraduate, I am keen to explore possible careers that, I think, would challenge me, and allow me to create positive change in the world.

Note: I've revised in response to comments from Jack and alephzero.

  • Thanks Richard. I'll definitely change the which to that. I didn't know you could have one 'me'. I think it sounds more natural with two though. – Jack Nov 22 '16 at 14:26
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    @Jack You could go with two mes. Nothing wrong with it. If you decide to do that, you might want to consider a comma after the first me. I would pause there when speaking. Try reading the various options out loud. – Richard Kayser Nov 22 '16 at 14:33
  • Thanks again Richard, I really appreciate your help. I'm including the comma and think I've (finally) got a sentence which reads well! – Jack Nov 22 '16 at 14:39
  • @RichardKayser: Nothing at the Grammarist link you provide says that "which" should be "that", only that "that" is preferable. It is entirely correct to use "which" to introduce a restrictive clause. Indeed, the page points out says that "there is no rule against using which in place of that to introduce nonrestrictive clauses", although it then claims that "that" is conventional word to use. – paolo Nov 22 '16 at 15:39
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    @paolo There are different schools of thought when it comes to the use of which versus that to introduce restrictive clauses; different references say different things. There are no doubt many questions here on ELU addressing the issue. Personally, I go by Strunk and White and always use that (unless there are two thats, in which case many people prefer two whichs). Also, I don't consider should "binding"; it's certainly weaker than must or shall. – Richard Kayser Nov 22 '16 at 18:50
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The second "which" is definitely optional, and leaving it out makes the sentence much crisper too.

Drawing an analogy to a mathematical equation in the form of x(a+b) = xa + xb, here's how the sentence construction looks:

"... I am keen to explore possible careers which, I think, (would challenge me + would allow me to create positive change in the world)". So "which i think" automatically applies to both "would challenge me" and "allow me to create...".

P.S: For that matter, the 2nd "would" can also be taken out. It's all a matter of writing style.

  • Brilliant comparison. Very helpful. – Jack Nov 22 '16 at 13:57
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My opinion is that the sentence should look like the following:

As a first-year undergraduate, I am keen to explore possible careers which, I think, would challenge me and allow me to create positive change in the world.

I would probably change "keen" to "excited." You might also want to consider writing the sentence like the following:

As a first-year undergraduate, I am keen to explore possible careers that will challenge me and enable me to create positive changes in the world.

  • '...excited to explore...' does not sound idiomatic and excited doesn't convey ongoing, sustainable ambition to me either. I'd rather work with someone who was keen than someone who was in a permanent state of excitement any day! – BoldBen Dec 7 '16 at 8:43
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Omit "I think" as it makes your statement sound less confident.

"As a first year undergraduate, I am keen to explore possible careers which, would challenge me; enabling me to create positive change in the world."

Hope this helps :)

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    I would change "I think" to "I believe". It comes across stronger, whereas "I think" can sound, like you said, less confident - or a little wishy-washy. – gmiley Nov 22 '16 at 12:12

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