First, I want to make clear that I'm not a native English speaker. So this question may seem too easy for native English speakers, but it is quite difficult to definitively answer for me.

I have seen, in several websites and scientific writing, people omitting the noun in the second sentence, for example:

The boys are playing football, and seem to steadily improve their technique.

The sentences look correct, but my concerns are: What if the sentences are too long, would be still understandable and acceptable to omit the second noun or pronoun?

How about:

The boys are playing football with a courage and discipline that I have never seen before, and seem to steadily improve their technique to handle the ball as well as their team work.

I would prefer to use "They" before "seem" in the second sentence.

Which way will be more proper?

And... Are there any rules as to when to omit the noun of the second sentence or when not to do it?

  • I certainly don't know of any rules, although with any long sentence there is a risk it is hard to understand. The main principle would be to avoid confusing the reader, who may forget the subject of the first part of the sentence at some point through a long sentence, but in such situations it may be better keep as two separate sentences, or rewrite some other way.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 1, 2021 at 14:22
  • 1
    Both options are equally grammatical. But the Gricean maxim of manner which as usually stated starts: 'one tries to be (a) as clear ... as one can [be] in what one says' kicks in as you suspect. I'm sure Grice would approve of the 'they' in your second but not your first ((b) is 'as brief') sentence. Feb 1, 2021 at 15:02
  • 1
    Native speakers would easily understand the pair of actions: The boys are playing football and seem to understand. She skis ferociously and dances gracefully. He walks and chews gum at the same time. In a long sentence, a comma is still not required in this construction, but you do see that it helps the reader separate the two chunks. Feb 1, 2021 at 15:45
  • The rule involved is called "Conjunction Reduction" and it's optional. That means that the rule says what to delete, but it doesn't tell you when to delete. That's up to the speaker, and relates to how fast they're talking, how much the speaker thinks the addressee understands, the nature of their personal relationship, and of the topic being discussed, and lots of other considerations. It's really up to the speaker when to follow the rule, so you can predict how, but not when it occurs. Feb 1, 2021 at 16:13


Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.