Is the sentence in the title absolutely grammatically correct? I recently had an argument with a fellow student, and he said that the sentence is incorrect. I do not think he is right, because I saw numerous examples of such constructions on the Internet, but we were never taught to use such constructions, so I decided to ask here to be sure.

Here are some similar sentences that I just found on the Internet as examples:

(1) I am tired and thinking in circles. (From An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas by Diane Wilson)

(2) And because I am tired and doing what I do not want to be doing, it takes another minute or two before the date sinks in. (From Man in the Moon: Essays on Fathers and Fatherhood by Stephanie G'Shwind)

(3) Where were you born? Melbourne, Australia ... What do you want to be when you grow up? I am grown up and doing what I want to be doing, Teaching! (Source)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jan 12, 2020 at 19:28

5 Answers 5


There is nothing ungrammatical about this sentence. It contains a kind of non-sequitur. There are many of these. For example, zeugma involves a kind of non-sequitur. An example of this is as follows.

He walked into the kitchen wrapped in thought and a bath robe.

Here the zeugma involves the same word (wrapped) first metaphorically and then literally. So the sentence jars and, as a result, can be funny.

This one is not exactly zeugma, but something rather like that.

In the case of your example, you can see the grammaticality of it just by substituting but for and.

I am tired but doing my homework.

There is no doubt about the grammar here. But also, there is a logical connection. Being tired is associated with not wanting to work or not being able to work. So if someone says they are tired, we do not expect them to go on and say they are working. The disconnect is a logical rather than a syntactic one. There are even contexts in which there is a perfectly good connection between the two statements in your example.

Mother comes into the daughter's bedroom and says: "Have you thanked Uncle Edward for that lovely present he gave you? It's now two weeks ago, you know." Daughter says "Please, not now, Mother. I'm tired and doing my homework."

  • 20
    But how did he walk into the kitchen if it was wrapped in a bathrobe? And just how big is this bathrobe? Jan 5, 2020 at 0:19
  • 19
    And how do you wrap a kitchen with thought, anyway? Jan 5, 2020 at 1:03
  • 5
    @EdwinAshworth I can agree that the case is arguable, and that yours is a legitimate argument. I disagree only with the word “unacceptable”. You, in turn, are right to challenge my denial of doubt. I overstated my case which should be that this is a grey area, as I think my example illustrates.
    – Tuffy
    Jan 6, 2020 at 0:04
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet: Or, conversely, how small is his kitchen?
    – Flater
    Jan 6, 2020 at 12:54
  • 1
    @SamRueby: "very similar" is an understatement: at least on the segmental level, the two words are homophones. Having said that, there may be fine phonetic details that distinguish the two. For example, there are studies that suggest that differences in frequency of use bring about durational differences to the effect that wrapped, which is much more frequent than rapt, will be pronounced shorter than rapt. However, we're talking about a few milliseconds here, a difference that most listeners will not pick even if they listen carefully.
    – Schmuddi
    Jan 7, 2020 at 9:38

Strictly speaking, the title sentence is grammatical, but it sounds unidiomatic because there's no connection between the two predicates. To give some similar examples,

I am raising money and running for president

sounds fine, but

I am lifting weights and running for president

sounds funny. Similarly,

I am tired and thinking in circles

sounds fine — because being tired can make you think in circles — but

I am tired and doing my homework

sounds a little bit funny.

In fact, this is true in general — if we want to connect two completely different things, we generally tend to leave out fewer repeated words than if we're connecting similar things. An example using nouns rather than verbs is:

I inherited her house and garden.

That sentence sounds fine, but you probably want to add an extra her in

I inherited her house and her rhinoceros.

So to make the original sentence idiomatic, you should say

I am tired and am doing my homework.

However, as John Lawler suggests in the comments,

I'm tired and I'm doing my homework

is even more idiomatic, because people generally contract I am.

  • 8
    It comes of trying to write an essay on a rhinoceros. Jan 4, 2020 at 19:42
  • 1
    The real problem is that saying I am is unusual. Most English speakers would say I'm, which is one less unstressed syllable at the beginning of the sentence (always a good thing), and also means that automatic conjunction reduction is always available: I'm tired and doing my homework is grammatical and normal (though strange -- one looks forward to the next utterance, perhaps How do you think I feel?). And if you happen to want to repeat I'm in the next clause, you're at liberty to: I'm tired and I'm doing my homework is also fine. Jan 4, 2020 at 19:57
  • 2
    @JohnLawler: If you add "how do you think I feel?" you've just connected tired and doing my homework, so it becomes idiomatic. Do you think "I inherited her house and rhinoceros" is idiomatic? To me, it sounds much better with a second her. Jan 4, 2020 at 20:22
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth The real difficulty in writing an essay on a rhinoceros is handing it in without it wandering away or damaging any property.
    – GreySage
    Jan 6, 2020 at 23:47
  • 2
    "I am lifting weights and running for president" is also a "garden path sentence" - after "I am lifting weights and running" you expect the sentence to continue with something about exercise, as in "I am lifting weights and running for my exercise routine"
    – user253751
    Jan 7, 2020 at 16:33

As with each other answer so far, I’ll confirm that the title sentence is perfectly grammatical. There is no real ambiguity or doubt on that score. In contrast to other answers, though, I find nothing odd, funny-sounding, or unidiomatic about the title sentence. I do not consider it a non sequitur.

In the example sentence, “I am tired and thinking in circles,” being tired directly influences the thinking in circles, because fatigue can cause difficulty thinking through things. This is one way in which clauses can be paired with and that makes sense. But it is not the only way.

In the title sentence, rather than “being tired” causing the doing of homework, it modifies the expressed experience. Doing homework while tired is a worse experience than either separately. It suggests, perhaps, that the author is overworked (or not budgeting their time correctly), because the best thing to do when tired is rest, and the best time to do homework is when you are well-rested. The combination here emphasizes that the speaker is not operating under those ideal circumstances.

It is perfectly reasonable to want to connect these two thoughts with and in order to achieve precisely that understanding. I don’t feel there is any particular need to repeat am here, or I am or I’m. You certainly could, it isn’t wrong to do so, but I don’t think there’s any pressure on the sentence suggesting that the author should do so. I don’t think the repetition or lack thereof significantly affects the understanding or flow of the sentence. Likewise, using but as the conjunction instead of and is definitely an option, but I don’t see it as a superior option. Nor do I see I’m as inherently more natural than I am for this usage. I can easily imagine a native speaker using any or all of these options in just about any permutation.

  • 1
    It sounds quirky as a standalone sentence. You've suggested one possible dequirkifying context (after say "You should have seen what I had to do at work today – it's so difficult"; I suggested another (after say "You should come out to the cinema this evening") (heaping reasons not to). Doubtless justifying context can be engineered for most surface non-sequiturs (I tried to come up with a difficult one). Jan 5, 2020 at 19:43
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth I simply do not agree. I don’t think it sounds quirky as a standalone sentence at all—I think the sentence all by itself already suggests a context. I could easily see it as a response to something as banal as “how are you doing?” “I am tired and doing homework,” i.e. clearly sub-optimal, enough said.
    – KRyan
    Jan 5, 2020 at 19:59
  • We're using 'standalone' differently! I'll substitute 'lacking any other context'; I don't mean just 'as a single utterance, though possibly in a dialogue'. Sadly, the former is usually what we are given on ELU. Jan 5, 2020 at 20:10
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth That still really doesn’t change anything for me. Totally out of the blue, I would still have no surprise at the construction of the sentence. It would just be a gripe—which is something people really do just say out of the blue.
    – KRyan
    Jan 5, 2020 at 20:16

There is nothing wrong with it, especially in colloquial English. Among friends,

Friend: Let's go out to the bar.
Me: I am tired and doing my homework.

[I can't go out.] I am tired and [, besides, I am] doing my homework.

I have multiple reasons reinforcing why I can't go out

But also, I suppose it could be used the next morning...

Friend: Sorry I convinced you to go out last night.
Me: I am tired and doing my homework.

[I really didn't appreciate that.] I am tired and doing my homework [, and it's all your fault!]

I have all these things to do and I'm tired and miserable because of you

So it really depends, but it certainly can convey a clear message with some context.


It’s grammatically acceptable, but a pedantic purist about writing might complain that it isn’t “parallel structure”—one part uses an “-ing” and the other doesn’t.

  • 3
    In other words, a Pist might get pist.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 6, 2020 at 1:00

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.