I just saw the sentence below:

We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, 
Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more.

Essentially there is a verb followed by a list of nouns. My question is does the verb apply to the entire list? As in, is the sentence equivalent to:

We need his vote on stopping crime, stopping illegal immigration, 
stopping the Border Wall, ...

Or should the verb only be applied to the first noun as a rule?

  • 3
    In many cases, such a sentence can actually be read in several ways, and unless some comic effect is what you want, you should probably try to rephrase it. – oerkelens Dec 4 '17 at 12:40
  • 1
    In a construction like We need his vote on stopping A, B, C, and D, it's ambiguous whether and how much of the highlighted phrase extends to the second and subsequent listed elements. That's to say, in addition to saying we need his vote on stopping A, the speaker might mean we also need his vote on stopping B OR his vote on B (perhaps to support B), OR even that we simply need B (where B might just be something we need, regardless of whether he can or will vote for B). Each additional element C, D, E,... may or may not carry forward any such "deleted" modifiers. – FumbleFingers Dec 4 '17 at 13:02
  • A colon would help clarify: We need his vote on stopping these things: A, B, C, and D. – Davo Dec 4 '17 at 14:47
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    Although FunbleFingers's comment is generally sound, it does not fit this case, since the speaker/twitterer does not mean to subordinate all of the listed objects under "stopping"; in fact, he wants to stop only the first two items in the list. Here is how the sentence would read if the author hadn't omitted various elements that are crucial to his intended sense: "We need his vote[s] [to] stop crime [and] illegal immigration, [build a] border wall, [strengthen the] military, [support] pro-life [legislation and the] V.A., [confirm conservative] judges, [uphold] the 2nd Amendment, and more." – Sven Yargs Dec 4 '17 at 23:32
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    ...Incidentally, the twitterer could have expressed his thoughts far more understandably (and within the 144 characters of a Twitter tweet) if he had rendered them as follows: "We need his vote on crime, illegal immigration, the border wall, the military, abortion, the VA, judicial nominees, the 2nd Amendment, and more." But that would have required an orderly thought process, an ability to self-edit, and a modicum of respect for writing as a means of lucid, coherent communication. – Sven Yargs Dec 4 '17 at 23:44

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