Just got the comment from a co-worker that we shouldn't repeat the word 'maker' in the following enumeration:

A unique learning experience for senior executives, decision makers and policy makers.

My gut feeling tells me this is the correct way to write it, but I'm not a native English speaker, so your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

  • 3
    Good gut feeling. 'A unique learning experience for senior executives, decision- and policy makers.' is not incorrect, but your fuller version has better style. // If the scope of 'senior' is just 'executives', 'senior executives' would be better placed last in the list. Feb 6, 2018 at 10:13
  • That's broadly because your colleague acted like an automated grammar/spell checker, instead of looking at what you wrote and what it might have meant. Of course, you could have used decision- and policy-makers and exactly how appropriate did that colleague think that would have been? At the same time, d'you see how "A unique learning experience for senior executives, decision makers and policy makers" can never be a sentence acceptable in itself; only ever an answer tied to a question? Dec 4, 2018 at 21:36
  • Best way to avoid repetition is to find a synonym, maybe something like "policy formers" or "policy officers", but it will depend on what terminology you use in your organisation.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 20, 2022 at 10:01
  • The main objection to this triad has nothing to do with semantics. The three words are familiar and largely synonymous. All replace traditional job titles, like 'Director' or 'Chairman' with compounds that reinforce ideas of the power/capability they might want to be seen to possess. As such there is an air of tautology. But flattery has ever been thus.
    – Tuffy
    Oct 11, 2023 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


Your original phrasing

senior executives, decision makers and policy makers

is correct. If it's desired to state "makers" only once, then "decision and policy" is a list of two items which needs an "and" before its last item; thus "decision and policy makers". This in turn is the second item in a list of two; this list needs an "and" before its last item. So we get

senior executives and decision and policy makers

Both "ands" are needed. If you'd written

senior executives, decision and policy makers

then the reader would have parsed the "and" as part of the item "decision and policy makers". This results in two items with just a comma between them and no "and". Because there is no "and", the reader would thus expect at least one further item (with an "and" before the last item).

  • 1
    Or use suspended hyphens: senior executives and decision- and policy-makers.
    – tchrist
    May 14, 2023 at 17:58

Both ways are grammatically correct, and this seems to be a matter of style. It seems that it's important to consider whether it's written text (e-mail, ad prospect) or a speech in front of the audience.

In the latter case you might want to try both variants and achieve different effects. Saying 'decision and policy makers' with large emphasis on 'and' might break the monotony. But if you want to achieve the monotony and strict symmetry the original phrasing is good.

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