1

The following are two version of a tagline.

Ask questions and share your unique knowledge about trains with the hobbyist community.

and

Ask questions about and share your unique knowledge on trains with the hobbyist community.

I would never say "Ask questions with..." so are these grammatically incorrect or just awkward? Is there a better way to word this without breaking it into two sentences?

The goal of the author was to have "hobbyist community" apply to both verb phrases. The desired meaning is as follows.

Ask the hobbyist community questions about trains and share your unique knowledge of trains with the hobbyist community.

However, that's a little long and redundant for a tagline. The only smooth wording I have come up with is the following.

Ask questions about trains and share your unique knowledge with the hobbyist community.

However, that changes the intended meaning somewhat.

  • Insert a comma before “and” and another after “on” to indicate right node raising of the prepositional object. (See en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_node_raising ) – Richard Z Dec 19 '18 at 18:43
  • @RichardZ ~ I read the link you provided. It's a lot to get one's head around, but if I understand correctly, RNR explains that the prepositional object is already shared even without additional punctuation. The problem, as I see it, is that the shared object is using the preposition "with" that doesn't work for one of the parallel verb phrases. – toxalot Dec 19 '18 at 19:22
  • Oh, I see. I thought the shared object was just "trains ... " and didn't parse the rest. Sorry, I missed that. – Richard Z Dec 19 '18 at 19:54
  • Maybe you can simply replace "with the hobbyist community"? Perhaps you can use "on this railway forum" or whatever your platform is? The place of asking, "on..." can work with both "ask" and "share"? – Richard Z Dec 19 '18 at 20:01
  • 1
    Both sentences are ambiguous and open to interpretation. Before any rephrasing could be done, we would need to know exactly what you're trying to express. Is it (ask questions) and (share knowledge with the hobbyist community) or is it (ask questions of the hobbyist community) and (share knowledge with the hobbyist community)? In other words, does hobbyist community apply to both actions or only to the second one? Are you trying to use ellipsis or just a simple conjunction? Perhaps you should break it into two separate sentences so we can suggest how to make it a single sentence. – Jason Bassford Dec 20 '18 at 18:26
1

The noun phrase the hobbyist community applies to both things: asking questions and sharing knowledge.

But the problem is that you ask questions of the community and you share your knowledge with the community. There's also the problem that you more naturally ask questions about trains and share your knowledge of trains.

Because each of these things result in a different formation, it's very awkward to have a single sentence where both parts make use of a common set of prepositions.

This can only really be avoided by not relying on a common set of prepositions. In doing this, the noun phrase also needs to be brought to the start of the sentence:

The hobbyist community where you ask questions about and share unique knowledge of trains.

But even though this is better (it now makes sense), and it retains all of the information in the original sentence, it's still a little lengthy and difficult to parse.


Since sharing can imply both questions and answers, it could be combined into just that single thing, making the assumption that knowledge sharing means asking and answering questions.

As before, the noun phrase could be at the start of the sentence:

The hobbyist community where unique knowledge of trains is shared.

Another possibility keeps the emphasis on the person with the noun phrase at the end:

Share your unique knowledge of trains with the hobbyist community.

But both of those versions essentially dismiss the original first part of the sentence.


Alternatively, asking questions could be retained if sharing is replaced with answering questions and knowledge is dropped (in order to keep it simple). Also as before, the noun phrase is moved to the start of the sentence:

The unique hobbyist community where you ask and answer questions about trains.

Or, depending on the emphasis:

The hobbyist community where you ask and answer unique questions about trains.


Of course, there are several variations of all of these examples.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.