He enjoys skiing, playing the guitar, hiking, and wildlife.

Is this semantically correct? If not, is there something wrong with “enjoys … wildlife”?

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    Rajah9's answer handles the "wildlife" aspect well. You could also change "wildlife" to "nature". – Kristina Lopez Jan 13 '13 at 19:59
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    I don't know why there would be a semantic issue with that sentence. – Robusto Jan 14 '13 at 3:32

Nothing semantically wrong, but to keep parallelism you might add a verb in gerund form.

... and watching wildlife.

... and stalking wildlife.

You might also move "playing the guitar" next to the wildlife, again to keep the forms similar.

He enjoys skiing, hiking, playing the guitar, and photographing wildlife.


The term in rhetoric for your original construction is syllepsis.² Syllepsis is a parallelism in which the terms do not strictly agree in some way. The rhetorical use for it is to provide emphasis. My favorite humorous example is from the song “Have Some Madeira M’Dear”:

And he said, as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, his cigar and the lamps:
“Have some Madeira, m’dear!”

(Emphasis added.)

Changing the sentence to use parallel grammar (that is, to use the same grammatical structure in each element)¹

He enjoys skiing, playing the guitar, hiking, and watching wildlife.

is not a correction of an error. It is a stylistic choice. You might use syllepsis in one sentence to make a point, parallel grammar in another to make it easy to follow.

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    Wait, is that last line supposed to sound funny if you're non-rhotic? I pronounce it as 'haev suh muh DAY ruh, muh DEER'. – Mitch Jan 13 '13 at 20:32
  • I have just noticed your new gravatar, nice! However this is only a syllepsis generum, not uncommon in other languages, nor -- especially -- in Italian language, but cannot be brought as a proof that the latter is better than the former. After all, also zeugma is not objectionable. – user19148 Jan 13 '13 at 22:11
  • @Carlo_R. Yes, that is my answer also. "The term in rhetoric for your original construction is syllepsis." – MetaEd Jan 13 '13 at 22:18
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    @Carlo_R. I have reordered the paragraphs to try to make it more clear. – MetaEd Jan 13 '13 at 22:20
  • An alternative conversion to parallel grammar: "He enjoys skiing, playing the guitar, hiking, and wild living." :-) – KSwenson Jan 14 '13 at 3:40

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