I have the following sentence:

The pact brought power; power, notoriety; and notoriety, the authorities.

Is this the correct way to distribute the verb "brought" to the rest of the noun pairs that are strung out after it?

Sorry for the vague title, I don't know what this sentence structure is called.

  • It's not entirely clear what the sentence is trying to say so it's difficult to know how best to say it. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 16:49
  • Gapping is not a rule to be applied haphazardly. Try repetition: The pact brought power. Power brought notoriety. And notoriety brought the authorities. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


The original is

The pact brought power; power brought notoriety;/,/ ... and notoriety brought the authorities.

(Some would quibble about the second semi-colon; I'd keep it for balance, in spite of the coordinator. I feel two commas doesn't lend the required gravitas, and two ellipses looks a little unprofessional. Fewer would probably contest the more obvious 'super-comma' usage in your deleted version:)

The pact brought power; power, notoriety; and notoriety, the authorities.

(though I think I'd use an ellipsis in place of the second semicolon to show a heightening of dramatic tension).

Omitting the repeats of the verb is known as gapping.

Dictionary.com has:

gapping [noun] Linguistics.

a rule of transformational grammar by which repeated instances of a verb are deleted from conjoined sentences, as in the deletion of brought from

Mary brought the bread, John the cheese, and Bill the wine.

  • 1
    Right on. If Ida seen this, I woudna made my comment above. Note, however, that Gapping only deletes repeated instances in right-branching languages. In Japanese and other OV languages, Gapping deletes all but the last identical verb in the sentence. So in those languages it'd be the equivalent of Mary the bread, John the cheese, and Bill the wine bought. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:06

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