I came across a sentence like this:

(A) Many have been buggy or poor experiences.

It sounds wrong and I would have written that like this:

(B) Many have been buggy or have poor experiences.

The problem with (A) seems to be with the Parallelism requiring splitting "have been" to just "have", which makes it bad.

Is (A) wrong grammatically ?
If so, why is it improper to split "have been" to "have" in Parallelism ?

  • 1
    It seems difficult to imagine something that could both be buggy and also could have a poor experience. Are you sure that "have been buggy or have been poor experiences" wasn't what was intended? – Peter Shor Feb 18 at 19:08
  • @PeterShor , It was like "Many video games have failed last year; Many [video games] have been buggy or poor experiences." and I thought it was trying to say that "the video games have poor [user] experiences" probably because of bad design and bugs, from the rest of the article ; but your interpretation is also valid. If my interpretation is the intended interpretation, would (A) be improper ? – Prem Feb 18 at 19:28
  • 1
    (A) is not wrong. It is just harder to parse due to gapping, which is the omission of some elements in a coordination, in this case by the or, that would otherwise be repeated. When the sentence is complicated then sometimes it is worth it not to avoid the repetition like what you did in (B). However, you missed another possible candidate. It is possible to assume that experiences is also part of the omitted content. This results in Many have been buggy [experiences] or [have been] poor experiences. – mama Feb 19 at 2:12

There, "poor experiences" can mean "unenjoyable experiences" or "sub-par experiences" (from the perspective of the user) and thus BE is an acceptable verb.

It was a poor experience.

In old-school terminology "poor experiences" is a predicate nominative. buggy would be a predicate adjective. So what you're mixing there is a predicate adjective and a predicate nominative, which is what is giving you pause, I think.


Many of the cities we visited have been modern and fun experiences.

The tendency is to take "modern" and "fun" as both applying to "experiences", but they don't. modern and fun experiences are separate predicates. Only "fun" modifies "experiences". The jarring effect can be mitigated in speech with a pause:

Many of the cities we visited have been modern, and fun experiences.

  • + 1 , yes , "Predicate Adjective" & "Predicate Nominative" seem to be the culprits ! – Prem Feb 19 at 6:16

I guess you could split the present perfect, but I don't see why you'd need to:

  • (A.1) Many [video games] have been buggy (adj.).
  • (A.2) Many [video games] have been poor experiences (zero det./art. + noun).

(A) Many [video games] have been buggy or [have been] poor experiences.

Seems like perfectly legitimate sentence structure to me.

  • +1 , Welcome to ELU & thanks for the insight ! – Prem Feb 19 at 6:03

If you imagine an ellipsis of the words "have been" then you get:

  • Many have been buggy or [have been] poor experiences.

I don't exactly know what rules there are for ellipsis, and how much you are allowed to omit. For example:

  • If I had won the election I would have done more for this country than any other candidate.
    [for this country]

As I said, I don't know the rules of how much you are allowed to leave out exactly. Ending with "would" may be questionable and possibly have a different meaning, but ending with any of the others I think would largely have the same meaning.

Another simple example:

  • I have been recognized and [I] [have been] awarded at a grand ceremony.

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.