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I came across this sentence:

  • The benefits of exercise are vast, including improved cardiovascular health....

I can tell something’s off here — I believe it should be either

  • The benefits of exercise are vast, and include....

or

  • Exercise has vast benefits, including....

— but I’m at a loss to explain why. Can someone tell me what exactly is wrong with the first formulation?

1 Answer 1

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The present participle phrase ("including improved cardiovascular health") modifies a phrase ("the benefits of exercise") from which it is separated by an entire predicate ("are vast"). People use terms such as "misplaced modifier" and "extraposition" for this issue. We can take care of it quite simply:

The benefits of exercise, including improved cardiovascular health, are vast . . .

However, the meaning of the original sentence seems pretty clear, with the intervening text consisting of only two short words, so many people would not object to it at all.

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  • No. 'Vast' means 'many' here. 'Types of car, including saloons, are many' doesn't work. Jun 26 at 14:43
  • 1) What part of my answer is incorrect? 2) I don't think that your sentence is analogous because it a) lacks a determiner on the subject, b) uses a count noun ("car") instead of a noncount noun ("exercise"), and c) uses "many", which is rarer than "vast" as a predicative expression. Something like this would work: "The varieties of wine, including sparkling wine, are vast" (or even "many"). Jun 26 at 15:02
  • Thanks for your response! If it's just that the intervening predicate creates too much distance between the subject phrase ("the benefits of exercise") and the participle phrase, why is the following syntactically sound: "Many people are coming to the party, including Julie." There seems to be something else going on as well — the participle phrase in this sentence could not be rephrased as "and include Julie," while in my original sentence it could: "The benefits of exercise are vast, and include improved cardiovascular health and..." Jun 26 at 17:34
  • @JessicaMurphy In my opinion, both sentences are syntactically correct. I'd only consider it an error if the subject and participle phrase are far enough apart to create ambiguity or otherwise confuse the reader. Jun 26 at 17:41
  • @dewyvapours I think that your second sentence doesn't work with "and include Julie" because "many people" has a different scope than "the benefits of exercise". There are others on this website who can address that issue better than I could. Jun 26 at 17:49

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