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In the sentence Several women, some as young as eighteen, others in late middle age, could be seen scrambling up the mountain. It looks like some and others are being used as pronouns.

It's a fine sentence, but I don't understand why it is allowed. If it's really a list shouldn't it be Several women, some as young as eighteen, and others in late middle age, could be seen... Or is this a case of multiple nonrestrictive parenthetical phrases, which seems possible, but I have no documentation on that.

  • It's two parentheticals back-to-back. – Hot Licks Oct 5 '18 at 22:53
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It's not a list. It's a nonrestrictive parenthetical phrase that is, itself, being modified by a nonrestrictive phrase.

The essential information in the sentence is as follows:

Several women could be seen scrambling up the mountain.


The nonrestrictive parenthetical phrase, with its further nonrestrictive modifying phrase, is this:

some as young as eighteen, others in late middle age

This takes the form of the following sentence:

The building was untouched until last week, when it was painted with graffiti.


The pair of commas that delineate the parenthetical are the first comma and the third comma. The second comma simply adds further information to what the comma pair encloses.

If you replaced the pair of parenthetical commas with parentheses, you would end up with this:

Several women (some as young as eighteen, others in late middle age) could be seen scrambling up the mountain.

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