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He wants to know how to keep in touch with her as well as how to get her attention.

The sentence above has the correlative conjungction [A as well as B]. Here, A and B should have a parallel structure, but is it grammatically possible to omit [how] in B as an abbreviation rule by repetition?

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  • Not really. Conjunction reduction works best over standard conjunctions like and; using a phrase instead distances the two parallel constituents to the point where one couldn't expect the addressee to recall the structure of the first conjunct, and therefore they couldn't be expected to accept reduction. I.e, the how is necessary with a phrase like in touch with. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 16:35
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    I don't see a problem with deleting the predictably-repeated infinitive marker to as well as how. Nothing wrong with He wants to know how to keep in touch with her as well as get her attention. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 17:10
  • But I'd say OP's version as written above is already "reduced" from He wants to know how to keep in touch with her as well as to know how to get her attention. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 18:40
  • The meaning is best conveyed by retaining the second "how".
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 8:09

3 Answers 3

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If you omit the second "how," the sentence suggests that you are learning a single skill: one that will allow you both to keep in touch and to get her attention.

If you include the second "how," the sentence suggests that you are learning two separate skills: one that will allow you to keep in touch, and one that will allow you to get her attention.

Presumably the latter meaning is intended, so you should include the second "how."

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If your sentence had only one "to" in the main clause, you might be able to get away with it. For example:

  • He knows how to cook as well as how to wash.
  • He knows how to cook as well as to wash.
  • He knows how to cook as well as wash.

These work best when you place stress the word "well".

However, it doesn't work well in your example because removing the second "how" makes it ambiguous which "to" to match. It becomes unclear which of the following the second clause expands to:

  • [He wants] to get her attention.
  • [He wants to know how] to get her attention.

What you suggest is grammatically possible in the sense that one of the possible expansions matches your original intent. However, because there isn't just one possible expansion, the shortened version might parse differently from what was intended.

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You are hoping for this:

He wants to know how:

  1. to keep in touch with her
  2. to get her attention

But you get this instead:

He wants:

  1. to know how to keep in touch with her
  2. to get her attention

So keep the how:

He wants to know:

  1. how to keep in touch with her
  2. how to get her attention

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