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I need some advice about the proper placement of the preposition "on" in the following sentence:

This is a tool used for creating, collaborating on, and presenting design prototypes.

In my understanding, it makes sense to put "collaborating on" last in the list as it's the only one using a preposition:

This is a tool used for creating, presenting and collaborating on design prototypes.

However, I dislike this order as I believe it modifies the meaning of the sentence. It doesn't follow the logical sequence of events: first create, then collaborate, finally present.

I'd appreciate some advice if the first quoted sentence is grammatically correct. Thank you!

  • "collaborating on last in the list" -- please don't; it's fine and much better the way it is. From the point of view of grammar, semantics as well as readability. As for logical sequence, see below. – Kris Oct 1 '18 at 10:29
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    Having been a professional product design engineer, it seems to me that collaboration is correctly placed between creation and presentation. Your mileage may vary. – Kris Oct 1 '18 at 10:32
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This is a tool used for creating, collaborating on, and presenting design prototypes.

This is grammatically correct.

As you noted, this is the logical sequence of events: first create, then collaborate, finally present.

When you mix transitive verbs (i.e., which are immediately followed by their objects) and verbs that that take prepositions, I would suggest

  • using the natural order, if there is any;
  • if there is no natural order, ending with a transitive verb (thus avoiding ending with a preposition, and thus avoiding that the reader (initially) wrongly parses the sentence as if the proposition applies to all the verbs);
  • and finally, if still possible, starting with a transitive verb (but this is just my æsthetic preference that can be ignored when other considerations take precedence).

Also, when the penultimate verb has a preposition, use a serial/Oxford/Harvard comma between the preposition and the conjunction, even if you normally don’t.

Your sentence checks all the boxes.

  • While I agree with you, I spent a good bit of time looking for such advice in reputable pubs and blogs and didn't find anything. Did you come across anything you can cite? – Phil Sweet Oct 4 '18 at 19:45

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