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Questions:

  1. In the examples below, is there a rule that says which verb form must come after an “and”?
  2. Should a comma appear before “and” in example 2B? Why or why not? I can’t locate a rule addressing this.

Example #1

A. The mediator was effective at ferreting out areas of compromise that might exist and creating a comfortable conversation among all parties.

B. The mediator was effective at ferreting out areas of compromise that might exist and created a comfortable conversation among all parties.

Example #2

A. The Commander bellowed, taking one hand off the wheel to reach inside his peacoat and pull out an ancient pistol.

B. The Commander bellowed, taking one hand off the wheel to reach inside his peacoat and pulled out an ancient pistol.

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    1A The mediator was effective at (1) ferreting out areas of compromise that might exist and (2) creating a comfortable conversation among all parties. // 1B The mediator (1) was effective at ferreting out areas of compromise that might exist and (2) created a comfortable conversation among all parties. //// 1 uses 'and' to coordinate prepositional complements; 2 uses 'and' to coordinate a compound predicate. Mar 22 at 17:25
  • @EdwinAshworth Thanks! This is helpful. Did you just have the answer regarding prepositional complements and compound predicates in mind, or did you find a good resource you can share?
    – Eric1982
    Mar 22 at 17:58
  • You can easily find information on 'compound predicates' (Nordquist is probably one of the best introductions). Multiple prepositional phrases shouldn't be too hard to find (note 'He fought against Tyman and Lenward' but 'They fought against the Elbonians and alongside the Ratbertians'). Mar 22 at 18:48
  • See also the syntactic rule Conjunction Reduction, which governs exactly which repeated elements, under which circumstances, can get deleted in a conjoined phrase.. Mar 22 at 18:56
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In (2), the reason for reaching into the coat was to get the pistol; the reason for taking a hand off the wheel was to perform the combined action, so only A makes sense.

In (1), A means that the mediator was good at both tasks. B means that s/he was good at finding compromise, and s/he also created a comfortable conversation. Which version you use depends on which shade of meaning you wish to convey.

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