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I'm having some trouble getting the following sentence to be grammatically correct:

This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or for an athlete, sport.

My particular concern is with ending the sentence with just "sport." I'm not sure of what the rules are for this kind of sentence, or what this sort of sentence is even called. I considered the following:

  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or for an athlete, their sport.
  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or for an athlete, to their sport.
  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or for an athlete, return to their sport.
  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or for an athlete, playing their sport.

Any help on this is appreciated!

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  • This is so; a person may return to performing everyday tasks, or an athlete to sport.
    – Ram Pillai
    Aug 5, 2020 at 13:44
  • Ah, everyone is doing such a good editing job. :)
    – Lambie
    Aug 5, 2020 at 15:56

3 Answers 3

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Firstly, the reading of those sentences gives the impression that an athlete is not a person and that should be made good by adding "in particular" or some such device.

Secondly, there is some awkwardness in all constructions in reason of a lack of parallelism.

Taking these remarks into account I'd write the sentence as follows.

  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks, and in particular for an athlete, to playing their sport.
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  • Adding “in order” isn’t useful.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 5, 2020 at 6:35
  • @Lawrence Am I to understand that "This is so a person may…" is correct?
    – LPH
    Aug 5, 2020 at 6:51
  • It’s grammatical and idiomatic to use “so” to indicate purpose.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 5, 2020 at 6:53
  • @Lawrence Thanks for this correction. It seems it is rarely used as on top of the fact that it seemed wrong to me I couldn't find it in Google Books, the ngram remained blank.
    – LPH
    Aug 5, 2020 at 6:57
  • Try using the search string “this is so you can”.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 5, 2020 at 7:02
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I think it's alright that the athlete isn't described as a person here, because they're not an everyday person, which is clearly what you're implying.

Here's how I would change the sentence to be more parallel:

This is so a person may return to everyday tasks, or an athlete (may return) to (their) sport(s).

One problem I saw was that "person" was grammatically a subject, but "athlete" was the object of a preposition, which started causing the sentence to go down the wrong path. You also want the type of thing they are "returning to" to be the same, either a verb or a noun. I thought it would be easier to take out the verb, but you could probably add another verb that suits sports more naturally than "performing" to make the clauses more similar. I also thought, while not totally necessary, making "sport" plural emphasized that "sports" and "everyday tasks" play the same grammatical role in the sentence.

This is a little bit of a shoddy fix, so let me know if there are any major oversights in it.

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I would suggest that the comma is in the wrong place: moving it one word to the right makes it clearer that playing sports is an option for "a person" and that an athlete is a particular type of person.

I would add an extra verb because it's unnatural to 'return to ... sport' or to 'perform ... sport'. Sport may be pluralised or not, according to local style.

  • This is so a person may return to performing everyday tasks or, for an athlete, playing sport(s).

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